fri 12/04/2024

Album: Dot Allison - Consciousology | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Dot Allison - Consciousology

Album: Dot Allison - Consciousology

Cosmic expansion of elegant Anthropocene themes

This album promises to be an expansion of the sound and ideas of its 2021 predecessor Heart Shaped Scars, and boy does it deliver. HSS was the Scottish singer-songwriter Dot Allison’s first album in some nine years, and only her seventh in the 28 years since she first appeared with the space-dub-country-torch-song trio One Dove.

And it was a delicate album, built on generations of the purest psychedelic folk, a perfect soundtrack for emerging from the shock of peak COVID, full of the intimacy of isolation and fears for the world, but renewed love of nature. 

Consciousology starts as if it’s a straight continuation of HSS. Opener “Bleached by the Sun” begins with picked acoustic guitar, then Allison at her most whispery singing about hope for life and fear of endings, and grows gently as Hannah Peel’s string arrangements snake in half way through and start to flesh it out. “Double Rainbow” continues this calm, considered air, although it gets denser and denser with rippling synths emerging from among the layered voices and strings. But nothing gets too dramatic through the first half. 

However, with “Mother Tree” things start getting trully cosmic and stay that way through to the end. Not in any grandiose, noisy, swooshy way, but the scope of the production and arrangements gets bigger and bigger, and the really psychedelic nature of the lyrical motifs of cycles, networks, fields and radiance that have been running through the record becomes very much apparent. It’s notable that the closer, “220Hz” is the most synth-led track of all: on a record that’s shot through with concerns about the Anthropocene and disconnection from the natural, technology seems to win out. 

Yet, that track is still gentle, human, folky. Is this a synthesis? A vision of hope for a technologically-enhanced nature? No, it’s none of those, because this isn’t a record that’s expounding a big theory or telling you what to think. It’s an exploration, an abstract portrait of those cycles and fields and natural patterns – and indeed, it’s cyclical itself: the ending makes you want to go back to the start. And what more could you want from a piece of music? This takes a little more getting into than HSS, but it’s a perfect companion to it, and a glorious addition to this phase of Allison’s creativity.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Unchanged":

The psychedelic nature of the lyrical motifs of cycles, networks, fields and radiance running through the record becomes apparent

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