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Dog Day – Elder Schoolhouse

October 12, 2009
Dog Day - Elder Schoolhouse (2009, Divorce)

Dog Day - Elder Schoolhouse (2009, Divorce)

This EP is the second offering so far this year from Halifax’s Dog Day. Recorded in March at Rick White’s Elder Schoolhouse studio, these five tracks offer a haunting and at times challenging take on the band’s already unorthodox sound. Otherworldly cries, chants, reverb, breathy moans, alien feedback loops emanating from overheating amplifiers creep in over the course of this record and are densely layered over eerie keyboards and playful guitar tracks.

I’m lost without the liner notes (the principal disadvantage of downloading all your music, I guess), but I’m reasonably certain “Dark Day” is the Rick White-authored track. It sounds like one of his: the vocal melody, while droning and repetitive at times, is still hook-y enough to let the words get stuck in your head. The rest of the track chugs along until all the players run out of steam at the end of a comparatively short digression.

The second side of the EP is a single 12-and-a-half minute track. “New Begining” starts out as one of the sparser songs on here, but soon diverges into strange territory and culminates with several minutes of no-wave chaos, accompanied initially (but not for long) by a pulsating bass line bravely attempting to hold it all together.

I’ve been trying for a long, long time to hear what other people must hear in noisy recordings like this, but I always wind up confused. I get the appeal of seeing it happen live. It can be interesting to watch people fiddle with pedals, mixers, guitars, and other machines to coax out new weird sounds, but recording and listening to the results reminds me of an encroachment into jam band territory, and I’m left wondering what the performers are trying to convey.

The first side of this EP is as accessible as most of Dog Day’s other recordings. The band is adding more noise and general weirdness, but it doesn’t diverge too far from their previous efforts. Side B is much more provocative and challenging — this here is some art, but it’s not for everyone.

Download the sample track “Synastry” from Divorce Records, or pre-order one of only 400 copies of Elder Schoolhouse.

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