DALGLISH: Benacah Drann Deachd (Highpoint Lowlife)


Posted on Apr 15th 2011 01:18 am

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Dalglish: Benacah Drann Deachd

Benacah Drann Deachd
Highpoint Lowlife 2011
11 Tracks. 44mins14secs

Chris Douglas has been making music under one moniker or another for the best part of twenty years, but amidst his numerous projects, Dalglish strikes by its resolutely dystopian outlook, served by highly processed oppressive electronic soundscapes, each denser than the previous one. What was already rather intense electronic music on OtHohr (Highpoint Lowlife, 2004) had become even more desolate and complex by the time he published Ideom (Record Label Records), four years on, and Benacah Drann Deachd is undoubtedly cast from a similar mould.

This is not an easy album to get into, its resolutely abstract rendering, lack of conventional musical structure and uncomfortably intense minimalism often leave tracks feeling so seemingly unsubstantial than they at times appear as nothing more than vague sketches. But this is all deliberate, as Douglas assembles sounds into intricate constructions, which, for the most part have a deeply mechanical feel. Melodies only occasionally take shape, and rarely for very long. They at times appear as filigree, placed so far toward the back of the spectrum that they are barely distinguishable from the backdrops they are placed against. Rhythmic patterns are equally irrelevant here. While percussive sounds form a major part of the sonic components throughout, Douglas doesn’t use them to entertain any idea of beat. Instead, they are highly processed and arranged in tight formations where they become intrinsic part of the fabric of these tracks. This makes Benacah Drann Deachd a somewhat dry and inhospitable offering, yet the extreme detailing in the soundscapes and the way they are held together also makes for a fascinating listen.

The track titles give no contextual clues to the inspiration behind the compositions or their intended effect. Instead, Douglas only provides what appears to be dates, all from the last ten years, but whether these bear any relation to the tracks they are associated with is not told. Listeners are left to piece the picture together, with only Douglas’s sonic collages as guide. As things stands, these are quite powerful triggers, from claustrophobic environments (3.9.2004, 30.12.2007, 7.3.2008) and fragmented textures (5.8.2001, 7.3.2009) to more austere (13.6.2003, 10.7.2005, 7.3.2009) and almost peaceful sequences (25.6.2010, 8.4.2006, 6.8.2002).

Despite the intensely mechanical aspect of the music, their is something very organic about these tracks. In that, Benacah… is often reminiscent of Autechre, especially in how Douglas manages to generated strong emotions from such deeply electronic approach, a feat made even more striking by the overall sombre aspect of the record.


Dalglish (MySpace) | Highpoint Lowlife

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