zaterdag 15 september 2018

Do You Know How We Got Here. Little Dots

No, sorry, I have no idea. Question answered.

Well, I sort of know how I got here, granted, having listened to this album a few times and decided to write about the album. So I do know how I got here.

Do You Know How We Got Here is Little Dots' second album. There are many changes I am told with the debut album 'A Clear Running Stream' (2014), but as I'm not familiar with the album, I can't tell. On this album Sophia Ammann and Pablo Casella play an extremely minimal form of electronic music. Sophia sings, Pablo programs and plays. In the past there have been several duos in this configuration. Little Dots is far from unique here.

There are a few reasons why I like this album. It all starts with the vocal melodies of Sophia Ammann. I like the way she sounds and the way her melodies complement the songs. Often making much more of some of the songs than the minimal sounds seem to allow for. That is far from all though. Several of the songs do flesh out and come alive immediately. Like a desert after the rain coming into bloom. And then there is the use of a surprising instrument or two.

In short Little Dots surprises and in that it places itself in a long list of Belgian bands. Originality is a place where they seem to live. Not that I always like the music, surprising it can be.

Promo photo: Grégoire Verbeke
The foundation of Do You Know How We Got Here consists of beats. Electronic sounds that together make up a rhythm. Medium tempo at best, the beat can contain things iron in sound or extremely synthetic hi-hat sounds. Over these beats anything goes. "Popcorn" like synthsounds, sound scapes, long drawn bass sounds, perhaps even a real electric guitar and all sorts of keyboard sounds. Together they make up (the basis of) a melody. Some empty, some more busy -in the Little Dots context that is- but all with enough to discover. Enter Ms. Ammann.

Just listen to how touching 'Home' is. The sound is cold, synthetic, distant and detached. With a voice faintly bringing Jerney Kaagman to mind, she sings the song ever more forceful. "The sound of silence" she sings about things left behind more and more. 'Home' is a song beautifully built up, becoming more passionate by the minute. Not so much ending in a huge climax as making a huge impression on me.

Considering that if asked for my impression of Do You Know How We Got Here I would straight away answer an electronic album, the listener would be surprised for sure by what is also on the album. The acoustic guitar and strings of 'The Man Who Lost His Face' e.g. The eerie sounds in the background making the song sound spooky.

It is surprises like these that make Do You Know How We Got Here an even more surprising album. And good; let's not forget that element. Although I ought to compare it with the likes of Portishead, I am more inclined to compare it to 'Veggie Patch In The Desert' by Elenne May. Although Little Dots is far more electronic, the twists in the music are of equal quality. The singing nearly as good. So all you people who like a surprise in your quality music, go out and listen.


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