The Black Dog


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When the duo Plaid burst out of the Black Dog split of the mid-'90s with several albums of challenging electro-techno, the member they left behind, Ken Downie, seemed to fade into the background. He emerged very occasionally to release excellent material, but for all intensive purposes, it appeared he would be remembered only for what Black Dog had accomplished as a threesome. Silenced, although only his second proper album since 1997, is another excellent album of listening techno; it bears all the hallmarks of his Black Dog classics without overly relying on them, and it has to force a readjustment in how critics view him in the history of electronica. Most closely resembling Black Dog's 1995 record Parallel (right down to the "Bolt" interludes), the record is driven more by mood than technology; the drum programs aren't complex, but Downie has a way of bewitchingly conjuring the past with his productions that not even Boards of Canada can touch. As before too, electro plays a big part in the sound of Silenced, as does Downie's interest in the classics (that is, Egypt, Greece, and Rome). The two-part "Trojan Horus" is the best piece he's released in ten years, and it's abetted by yet more great stuff: "Drexian City R.I.D.E.," "Alt/Return/Dash/Kill," and "Truth Benders D.I.E."

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