Blank Dogs

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

On Two Sides (2008) , 6/10
Under And Under (2009) , 5/10

The Blank Dogs, the project of New York's prolific Mike Sniper, indulged in a sloppy, lo-fi version of Joy Division with the singles Diana (Sacred Bones, 2007), Doorbell Fire (Sweet Rot, 2007), The First Two Weeks (Freedom School, 2007), Two Months (Floridas Dying, 2007), and Yellow Mice Sleep (2007). The EP Diana (The Herald) (Sacred Bones, 2007) contains the elegies Leaving The Light On and Scenes From A New Town. The seven-song EP The Fields (2008) contains Passing The Light, and the EP Seconds (Captured Traces, 2009) contains Keeping All The Time, one of their best.

The album On Two Sides (Troubleman Limited, 2008) coined an amateurish combination of dark-punk, synth-pop and noise-rock. At its best the concept yields catchy, propulsive and effervescent ditties like Ants and RCD Song. Pieces also injects into the melody a hard-rock riff a` la Kinks, Blaring Speeches is bouncing and operatic in a comic manner, and The Station sounds like a parody of a Kraftwerk-ian dance. Alas, the filtered vocals and the dry machine beats get a bit annoying after a while.

The mini-album The Fields (Woodsist, 2008) was even more derivative but at least featured better sounding vocals and drums. The anthemic synth-pop of Spinning and the funereal litany of Red World were bogged down by too many moribund tunes. The erratic quality of the first album and of this mini-album basically confirmed that the ideal medium for the Blank Dogs was the single.

Under And Under (In The Red, 2009) featured more sophisticated devices, best represented by I Machine, wrapped in pounding machine beats, industrial miasma, found noise and teutonic atmosphere, by Face Watching, a polyrhythmic dance with steady background noise and rumbling keyboards, and by closer From Here, a singalong with ecstatic choral counterpoint. The production, however, is still an acquired taste. For example, the guitar effects bury the melody of Night Night, which could have been a highlight, and trivial electronic beats disfigure Setting Fire To Your House, which could have been the most powerful melodrama. And too many songs are still derivative of dark-punk in a rather obvious manner (Open Shut, Tin Birds).

Synth-pop and dark-punk remained the main influences on Land And Fixed (Captured Tracks, 2010), that contains Goes By, and on the EP Phrases (Captured Tracks, 2010).

Collected By Itself - 2006-2009 (Captured Tracks, 2011) collects EPs and singles.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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