The Black Dog - Spanners as reviewed by ruethewhirl

May 22, 2012
edited over 5 years ago
There are two things that need to be put down in the table before talking about this record: first, it is a tough one to get into, highly moody and with an overall dense atmosphere. Think twice before spinning it, as you might be in the wrong mood and it won't sound any good.
Second, and i find this very important, i can't avoid a comparison with Bytes, the '93 compilation which, from my personal view, while clearly adapting the detroit techno soul, still covered a wider range of emotions and tastes, sounding like an exploration of the same eclectic field that Spanners would later define as a theme.
It's intersting that one can still spot which tracks were made by whom, as it is known that the trio used to work separately (and Plaid still work this way nowadays). Chesh, for example, has Balil written all over it. Barbola Work does sound like it has a lot from Ken. Despite the method their intention was clearly to melt everything down to the same pot. The cover expresses this perfectly: a dog with one body and three heads. A better cover could not be imagined.

Mystery has always been a word i am afraid of using, because it implies a certain thing i am talking about as if it were objective, but that i can't really explain. Spanners is for me like another egyptian myth, a civilization that fascinates me more for what i don't know about it than for what i know, in the sense that it doesn't need to tell you anything beyond the strictly minimum. It doesn't need to explain itself and tell its story. Spanners has born to become a myth in its own way.
I can only imagine how this might have sounded back in the day it was released because, it has nothing to do with what was being done at the time, it's like it was produced inside a bubble, right when [detroit] techno was king. As of today, i think it still sounds way ahead of our time.
Just like myths do.

The acid lines, the only element that might sound instantly familiar in this music, is taken to extreme proportions: it is raw and almost filthy on Psil-Cosyin, but it can also be indistinguishable and blend perfectly like an instrument on Further Harm, it is hypnotic in Nommo, gets elevated to epic statute in Utopian Dream and sounds so happy in Frisbee Skip. I love it how the guys at the Black Dog Towers grabbed an element so related to the techno identity, and made it sound so personal and, most of all, eclectic. Barbola Work explores rhythms that are exotic in a dark, but also sexually engaging way. Utopian Dream is like the architecture of the temple of Hatshepsut, minimal in elements, grandiose and majestic in the way it is presented to the world. And Chesh finishes the record still feeding the mystery a bit more. It's a sonic organism. Notice how each melody keeps germinating from another one, and how they develop around axes, building a crescendo, sort of like droplets that are born from another bigger droplet and spin around it. It's one of the most emotional tracks i have ever heard. Last but not least, i couldn't forget about the little Bolt pieces, that act as antechambers of the record, as if the other tracks were rooms one would explore inside a pyramid, and they are for me, the most exquisite, alien and mysterious sounds of the whole record, and can't really compare to the long tracks. It's strange that they are called bolts tough, but it is indeed obvious that they are essential to the record as a whole.

My dream is that in 20 years i can still be listening to it and have the exact same opninion, because Spanners was already born timeless and it is like a wild spirit that won't allow itself to be understood objectively, only in a transcendent way.

The Black Dog - Spanners hbmf

June 11, 2015
edited over 2 years ago
Great review. I can only agree as someone who has been listening for the best part of 20 years (and only really 'got it' recently - how fkn awesome are barbola work and psil-cosyin?), that it's a majestic album.

The Black Dog - Spanners raxmus2

September 11, 2010
Best electronic album of the 1990s. I can't think of anything that has topped it since, and I've got 11000 mp3s. It's a masterpiece. Nothing is as carefully crafted as this album.

The Black Dog - Spanners as reviewed by Psyloid

February 14, 2005
edited over 12 years ago

The bolt parts that glue the tracks together are amongst the weirdest sounds i've heard. I found this CD in a shop halfway the nineties and i didn't know what to expect. It was my first meeting with the black dog, and i thought it was made by aliens from a far, nasty planet...
Even today (2005) it remains one of the greatest masterpieces ever in electronic music.

The Black Dog - Spanners as reviewed by sklbns27

October 27, 2004
edited over 13 years ago

You can't really call this an IDM record as it was out before people would call music that silly name. It's best ambient/chillout album ever. The mix is so soft and tame while the drums don't over drive the main groove. The sounds alone will take you on this journey that will make girls, guys, dogs, cats, moms, dads, brothers and sisters love this album for the years to come.

The Black Dog - Spanners kattamuuran

December 31, 2009

i totally agree with your review, but it should be said, that "IDM" started grumbling its name in 94 or so, at least as far as the music press was concerned