Album – Sole Inhabitant – Thomas Dolby

Posted by admin on December 15th, 2006

  • Band / Artist : Thomas DolbymySpace
  • Genre : Wave / Electronica / Pop
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9 out of 10

My earliest memories of Thomas Dolby are the early 80’s, when his “She Blinded Me With Science” single was released. This was a very memorable track, not just for the music, but also for the video, which both featured Magnus Pyke, a wacky science guy, who was on a TV show at the time called Don’t Just Sit There. His most memorable trait, was the wild use of his arms while explaining science subjects. When I said early 80’s, the actual year was 1982. That’s an unbelievable 23 years ago. Over the years that followed a few more singles were forthcoming, but it wasn’t until the 1992 release, Astronauts and Heretic that I finally added a Dolby album to my collection. This album was more pop and rock than the usual electronica I was used to, but it had some absolute gems on it, including the hit single “Close But No Cigar”.

Fast forward 14 years and I have to admit, the Dolby name pretty much faded from my musical horizon. I did however see his name pop up in various tech publications and websites, talking about his other venture at the time, the company Beatnik. That was until recently, when I came across a video podcast, showcasing songs from a DVD called Sole Inhabitant. This DVD of live performance, was also available on CD. As Dolby himself was releasing video podcasts, I immediately approached his label to see whether I could review the album and feature a track in the Indie Launchpad Podcast. They tapped the details into their computer, and the answer came out, “Yes”. Excitement ensued, especially when the CD came in the post.

The album opens with “Lepizig Calling”, which like 8 of the 11 tracks, I’ve never actually, or rather never consciously heard before, even though some of them do actually sound familiar. Though Dolby is often referred to as an electronica artist, for me there is something much more interesting than that pigeon hole genre. Again “One of Our Submarines” also showcases that Dolby sound, which entertains and engages, rather than washing over like many other electronica albums. For me the gem on the album is “Flying North”, which has that beautiful repetitive soundscape of pure luscious sound.

Call me a pretensious music critic, but this album is just a sheer delight to listen to. I think the thing that is totally obvious with this album, is that the production quality is absolutely superb. It’s very difficult sometimes to remember that this is a live album. I think the only thing I would have reservations with, is going to see an act like this. From watching the video podcast segments, it’s plainly obvious that Dolby is a keyboard virtuoso, but how exciting is it to watch a guy bang a few keys and sing a bit.

On a final note, I hope that Thomas didn’t just choose to produce video podcasts, solely for the release of this album. From watching them, it comes across quite plainly that he is a down to earth and very engaging story teller. I would love to see him recount some more stories intertwined with his music.

Conclusion : It’s great to see the name Thomas Dolby back on the music scene. It’s also been great rediscovering some old favorites and also discovering some great tracks for the first time.

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