Huw(Bunf) Bunford ,frontman of The Super Furry Animals, has been on a productive hiatus from the group. Bunford has formed a side project band, The Pale Blue Dots with composer Richard Chester. The duo has released for digital download Lots of Dots. Richard Chester the other half of the Dots, met Bunford in the midst of recent academic studies and both realized they were seemingly on the same wavelength. Chester an established composer with film scores for Daylight Robbery (2001) and Red, White, and Blue (2011) is also know for his collaborations with Psychemagik, writing and providing orchestral arrangements.
Chester and Bunford found the structures of academia a bit stifling and started working on this project as a way to get their creative juices flowing while using the structures learned in academia to form the songs. The duo’s main goal was to create something worthy of demonstrating the pure pleasure of just listening to music. Bunford also utilized his vast collection of atmospheric sounds he has been recording for years on the record. The duo was looking to make something that wasn’t just pop, and not rigid composition or completely abstract soundscapes, but an intelligent combination of all of the above. They took a little from each column to create something engaging.
The recording is described as an EP, with six songs that are fully formed with lyrics and accompaniment and three instrumental ambient songs. The first song Tokyo Hotel Silence is a collage of found sounds from the city of the title. It is a muted ambient song with a dreamy lulling calm soundtrack. Slow Reaction has a pop thrust with clever tempo variations, a great ragtime piano, and reminds me of the great glam rock pop of the 70’s. Devastation is unmistakably a song derived from Super Furry Animals songbook. It is also impossible not to love. There is nice use of acoustic guitar and again that ragtime piano. It reminds me of ELO if they had been lucky enough to produce a song this good.
Reach for the Keys is a bouncy pop song. The echo and reverb give the song a nice spacey feel. No Motivation is a paean to lethargy and the shape-shifting guitar is enthralling, making the track a stand out on the release. Aquarium is my personal favorite of the album, mixing parts of the Beatles, Kate Bush and even harkening to SFA’s song Presidential Suite and coming up with this smooth tune that is extremely pleasing. It is a fluid ethereal song, a beautiful amalgam of psychedelic pop with ambient silkiness, making for an entrancing aural impact.
The techno tinged Look into my Eyes is a synth driven pop song. It reminded me a lot of the Manic Street Preachers “Futurology” track, “Last Plane to Moscow”. It stays true to SFA sensibilities and is a truly enjoyable song. The final song Nebraska feels like the sound track to high noon in an avant-garde western. There is a lot of rueful energy in this track, making the listener envision some one squinting across the arid dessert as the end credits run. This song has Chester’s fingerprints all over it, and has the most ambient soundtrack feel of the release.
At the end of the disc you almost suspect there is a movie hidden somewhere and this is its soundtrack. The duo has created a hybrid funky release. It is a must have for those familiar with SFA as there is everything here for their fans to like. Also of note is the exquisite use of the palette of found noises that show up, lending authenticity, depth and imagination to the recording. The release rounds out any SFA fan’s collection. It is also a nice incentive to non SFA fans to check out the exceptional works in their back catalog. Lots of Dots earns a very solid 7/10.
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