When the original Black Dog trio split back in 1995 I somehow lost the thread of Ken Downie’s work, while continuing to keep track of Handley and Turner’s. It’s taken thirteen years to reconnect. The Black Dog is a trio again, with Downie joined by Martin and Richard Dust. If Radio Scarecrow isn’t quite at the cutting edge of electronic music, it’s still a fine album indeed.
At seventeen tracks and 70 minutes it harks back to the days when it was expected that electronica CDs be as long as conventional vinyl double albums. The sound, too, is nostalgic for the old mid nineties days when unashamedly melodic and emotional albums were par for the course. If it doesn’t necessarily offer anything radically new, it is of a consistently high quality and thoroughly enjoyable.
The album has a slightly lopsided construction. The first half generally consists of longer tracks which hark back to the classic Warp IDM sound (“Riphead v9”), late period Kraftwerk (“Train By The Autobahn”) and even bleep techno (“UV Sine”). The shorter tracks towards the end of the record have a more experimental edge. The five track closing sequence is particularly good. “Beep” is hard-edged and clinical, while “Witches OV” is a stunningly beautiful techno ballad. “Ghosts and Vexations” is swathed in piano melancholy and sandwiched between two static and shortwave radio pieces.
Radio Scarecrow is mixed as one continuous sequence, and flows unhurriedly and seamlessly from style to style. It doesn’t push any envelopes or break any new ground, but it’s a record that is consistently strong and seductive.
1 Transmission Start
2 Train By The Autobahn (Part 1)
3 Train By The Autobahn (Part 2)
4 Riphead v9
5 UV Sine
6 …Short Wave Lies
8 Digital Poacher
10 Set To Receive
11 EVP Echoes
12 Floods v3.9
14 Witches OV
15 Dials & Dialers
16 Ghost Vexations
17 Dials & Dialers 2