Consciousology by Dot AllisonRelease date: July 28, 2023
Label: Sonic Cathedral
Dot Allison is a Scottish composer and multi-instrumentalist perhaps best known as the former One Dove singer. This is her first release for Sonic Cathedral, and only her second full length after a decade away. Dot also contributed to ex-Engineer Mark Peters’ excellent Red Sunset Dreams last year. She has help this time from the London Contemporary Orchestra, Andy Bell of Ride (who plays guitar on two tracks), and Hannah Peel, who created some of the string arrangements. I have known of Dot’s work for years now, but I did not pick up on her last full length release.
There are strains of folk, chamber pop, dream pop, and psych pop interwoven in this release, and all of it is lovely. You may certainly play spot the influence, but it is not that obvious. However, I will say up front that Dot’s music easily slots in with the wonderful Astrid Williamson and Jane Weaver.
The opening track is ‘Shyness of Crowns’, sumptuous and grand, rather like the full blown beauty of an overly laden peony after the rain, drooping slightly but standing out amidst the kaleidoscopic array of an informal English garden. I also appreciate the strings contributing trippy washes to this marvelous song. ‘Unchanged’ offers itself up on simpler terms, a quiet interlude punctuated with synthesised bird calls and Dot’s heavenly vocals. It builds in small ways, and I wonder if that’s a harmonica, and yes, even a theremin that I hear. Nice counterpoint to the main melody. ‘Bleached by the Sun’ could almost describe the global draught, at least in imagery. Dot’s voice wavers over a simple guitar line with some lovely double tracked vocals. The song is awash in melancholy, offset a bit by Dot’s plainly stated lyrics. I am moved beyond words as the song takes flight.
‘Moon Flowers’ is chock full of nature and is lovely to behold (like every song here). I like the line, “Don’t give up, ‘cause you’ll get there soon”. ‘220Hz’ is markedly different from the previous sonic confections, more electronic and metronomic but also interspersed with soaring vocal segments. ‘Double Rainbow’ returns to symphonic splendor, an expansive piece that stretches out past 6 minutes. I cannot help but feel how great this music would be as a film soundtrack. ‘Mother Tree’ adds to the natural world theme (something Dot excels at) with a synthetic backing chorus, which oddly complements this tune. ‘Weeping Roses’ closes up the record, and I am noting a Nick Drake influence wafting its way through, both from a melodic and musical stand point. It is almost a fusion of jazz and folk. Wonderful! It was a pleasure to review this, and I recommend it highly!