The Flow Across Borders is the second album and debut release on the superb Castles In Space label from Scotland’s Dohnavùr, a duo comprised of Ali O’May and Frazer Brown. The pair met in 2018 at an Electronic Music Open Mic event in Edinburgh. They quickly bonded with Ali providing Frazer with a USB stick of stems written and recorded on his home modular system. Frazer took the raw material and, applying his broad knowledge of electronic music, turned the stems into tunes, and the band’s debut, You Can And You Shall, was the result.
The pandemic stopped the band’s plans in their tracks, so they sought out alternate means of getting their music out to a wider audience. The band noticed that Colin Morrison of Castles In Space had mentioned on Twitter that he was looking for submissions for a lockdown compilation, so the band sent him the track Surmonter. Colin was so impressed that he made the track the opener of the compilation The Isolation Tapes. That compilation was named Compilation Of The Year in the 202 awards given by hugely influential magazine Electronic Sound.
From there, Dohnavùr has grown and grown. The outstanding Pristine Environments ep was released by Castles In Space earlier this year, and the band have now followed that with the quite wonderful The Flow Across Borders.
The album sees Dohnavùr stick to their tried and tested method of Ali’s stems being manipulated into tracks by Frazer. This has led to an album that draws influences from all electronic music genres to create an immensely enjoyable collection of tunes that demands to be played repeatedly. From the Eno like ambience of opener New Objectivity to the similarly ambient closing track Pass Remarkable, we find early Mute Records influences in Sestriere, Orbital and Selected Ambient Works Volume 1 style Aphex Twin in The Kindness Of Others and Sunk and just full-on electronic joy in Twenty There. Pwll Du’s nod to the more ambient aspects of Nine Inch Nails’ various Ghosts projects is a real joy.
As you would expect with a Castles In Space release, The Flow Across Borders is an album bound to delight all fans of electronic music. At first, it’s a complex listen, and that is not meant to be a negative, but each additional listen reveals more and more until you are fully hooked.
Scotland’s electronic scene is one that I have long championed, and bands like Dohnavùr only serve to emphasise the sheer depth and quality of that scene in this country at the moment. With The Flow Across Borders, Dohnavùr has shown that they are at the forefront of all that is good about electronic music in Scotland today. This is a band to keep a close eye on.
The Flow Across Borders by Dohnavùr is out now on Castles In Space and is available on limited edition 12” coloured vinyl and digital download.