Interview: Martin Dosh

A lot of great musicians immerse themselves in a world of sound, and in Martin Dosh’s case, that’s true on more than one level. In the studio, the Twin Cities drummer and keyboardist, part of the loose-knit Anticon collective, creates intricate collages from looped and recombined audio. Not samples, but music composed by Dosh specifically for the purpose of being reworked later into his aural mosaic. His live setup resembles something NASA would use to control a Mars lander, with Dosh surrounded on all sides by banks of keyboards, effects pedals, samplers, a mixing board, and his drum set. Guests on Dosh’s new The Lost Take include violin-wielding Chicagoan Andrew Bird (Dosh also doubles as Bird’s backing drummer) as well as fellow Minnesotans including Tapes N’ Tapes’ Erik Appelwick, Happy Apple’s Michael Lewis, and Sean McPherson of Heiruspecs. But the sensibility is pure Dosh: graceful, highly textured, warm, even meditative, but with an ever-present and constantly surprising rhythmic flow. The A.V. Club caught up with Dosh a couple of weeks before Lost Take‘s release.

Originally published on Oct. 19, 2006. Read the complete article.

Review: Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things: Short Fictions And Wonders

English expatriate Neil Gaiman has arguably received the most attention for fantasy novels like American Gods and Anansi Boys, whose success raised him from genre obscurity to a space on the bestseller lists near Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. But he’s had a knack for the short story ever since his work on the Sandman comic series—a format that rewards the ability to say everything that needs to be said in 24 pages of large illustrated panels and short word balloons.

Fragile Things, Gaiman’s third short-story collection, is probably best viewed as a collection of B-sides rather than any kind of unified artistic statement. The works here include short poems, a novella-length American Gods sequel, and stories compiled from far-flung anthologies, including one written to illustrate a photograph of a sock monkey. So it’s understandable that some pieces are more consequential than others. Still, even the trifles are engagingly written, such as “Strange Little Girls,” a set of brief character sketches written for his friend Tori Amos, as liner notes to her 2001 album of the same name. The similar “Fifteen Painted Cards From A Vampire Tarot” seems even more like a warm-up writing exercise published prematurely, especially since Gaiman admits there are seven more cards yet to be written about.

That isn’t to say that the 31 pieces here (32, counting one tucked away in Gaiman’s introduction) are all oddments. The Hugo-winning “A Study In Emerald” cleverly interweaves the worlds of Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft by re-imagining Sherlock Holmes’ debut mystery in a Victorian England ruled by Cthulhu and its brethren. Another Lovecraft-inspired gem plants a character inspired by P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster in a world of wittily overstuffed gothic horror, and follows his frustrated attempts to write “serious” fiction to a satisfyingly logical conclusion. And it might seem odd that one of the best stories here, “Goliath,” was written for-hire to help promote the first Matrix movie, but Gaiman has a facility for putting his own twist on other people’s invented worlds, especially when he’s given the freedom to explore on his own terms. Though Fragile Things‘ odds-and-ends nature inevitably makes it disjointed, it’s also a good showcase for the breadth of Gaiman’s darkly whimsical imagination, wry humor, and penchant for elegantly creepy horror.

Originally published on Oct. 19, 2006. Read the complete article.

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