DOT ALLISON – Consciousology (Secret Cathedral)

ConsciousologyDot Allison’s Consciousology is a wispy voiced Scottish singer-songwriter album filled with obtuse and quite beautiful melodies and music that’s doused in madcap electronics and leavened with pliant symphony orchestrated textures. And an always present gently touched acoustic guitar dapples with purity through a funhouse sonic (sort of) folky ride. This is an artful aural collage that travels in the same orbits as the experimental quietude of Virginia Astley (of From Gardens Where We Feel Secure fame) and the purveyor of always great tapestry-woven music, David Sylvan.

The first song, ‘Shyness Of Crowns’, is a lovely tapestry of sound. Electronics plonk a steady percussion, while the orchestral strings soar with deep curves. And then Dot’s voice lightly dances on a thin wisp of air. The percussion declares its presence, and merry electronic bits bounce as the horn section gets to have its say, only to give way to the initial plonks and deeply curved strings. There’s a slight eastern vibe in this musical portrait.

It’s all rather amazing.

As is ‘Unchanged’, which begins with Nick Drake acoustic preamble, with Dot’s voice, again, a beautiful quiet smile. Of course, the song enlarges its symphonic latitude, but the soft acoustic voice gets a reprise (with finger snaps!), until the big deep heavy throb envelops the final portion of the tune. And, yeah, those colourful electronics continue to dance.

Granted, this music isn’t for those hardy souls who still cherish the mythology of Pete Seeger trying to ax the power cables as Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. But ‘Bleached By The Sun’ is really quite magically beautiful. And it’s at least in the same solar system as the great Bridget St John’s brilliant (and quite orchestrated!) Songs For A Gentle Man album. The same is true for ‘Moon Flowers’, which begins with pure acoustic guitar and melodic voice, but the strings eventually arrive to sooth with warm air with symphonic brush strokes. And ditto for ‘Double Rainbow’, which again, begins with an acoustic song, but then warps into quiet sonic stardust, until it returns to a solitary venture into the wonderous joy of infinity space, with wobbly transmissions for dear Mother Earth. It’s an odd thing to say, but perhaps, Yes man Jon Anderson, on his Olias Of Sunhillow album, touched this same distant destination.

Lest complacency becomes the tour guide, ‘220Hz’ gets into a dimension of its own musical making. Wow! Electronic noises blip and pulse and bounce like a really cool pinball machine amid the wordless vocal and dissident orchestral mood. It’s a nice brief sonic interlude.

But, indeed, the prodigal always circles back home. ‘Milk And Honey’ wraps itself around that ethereal sound that puffs folk song beauty, and then blossoms with deep important symphonic wisdom. And ‘Mother Tree’ begins with the memory of an Anthony Phillips (of early Genesis and solo fame!) acoustic song, but quickly becomes immersed in really weird electronic (to quote Sir Paul McCartney) “bip bop”, while the symphonic sounds, once again, soar with juxtaposed comfort.

The final song, ‘Weeping Roses’, is soft, acoustic, beautiful, and with Dot’s wispy vocals and piano pulse, simply sings a soft resolution to an album that, in an odd way, defies the gravity of Pete Seger’s mythical Newport Festival axe attack, and floats, with unencumbered grace, onto a weirdly dreamt featherbed landing.

Bill Golembeski

Artist’s website:

‘Unchanged’ – official video:

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