Who says music can’t still have an aura of mystery about it in the internet age? You don’t just have to wear masks to have an air of intrigue about you either. Take Dolch for example. Not only do they have no real web presence, their CD turned up here without even a mention of the band name on it! I had to do some real digging and found out who they were eventually by typing in the track titles to a search engine. There are a few music clips knocking about on YouTube and people talking the normal crap that they do on the Nuclear War Now forum about Dolch but apart from this and the fact they recently seem to have played the Metal Mean festival in Belgium there’s very little to be found. These demos were originally released by Totenmusik but are now getting a new lease of life by Van records who seem to be giving us a lot of interesting new acts at the moment. With all this in mind I was expecting some complete underground kvlt necro worship and pressing play was incredibly surprised by what I got. Basically what we have here are angelic female vocals over incredibly layered doom-laden, fuzz-heavy instrumentation. I have seen a few people comparing this lot to Urfaust which is not a million miles off target as a comparison to this new German band but there’s plenty more to them than just that.
With first demo track ‘Bahrelied’ I am instantly transfixed and transported back in time by a sound that could have come from the 80’s and acts like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Lush. This is essentially style wise what I would term as dream-pop as much as anything more contemporary and with the heady melody and sublime and beguiling vocals it’s a welcome trip back too. There are plenty of more recent bands that could be mentioned in the same breath as this lot too though, the doom laden heft cites Subrosa, Jex Thoth et all and the slight blackened feeling everything from Velvet Cacoon (remember them) and naturally darling of the moment Myrkr. As things continue I certainly find myself in the past more than the present though. The floating mesmerising second number ‘Hiob 1.1’ is ethereal in the extreme and is dare I say akin to faerie music with everything low in the mix sounding completely otherworldly. ‘Das Ange’ with its babbling vocals is wholly reminiscent of an albeit heavier Cocteau Twins circa them at their best on albums like ‘Treasure’ and really is quite enchanting.
Some piano soothes way into demo II and first track ‘Licht’ which has male and female vocals now with the track sung in German. It has a bit more of a folk like feel to it sounding like it could even be a piece of traditional music. It gets under the skin as did the earlier numbers and again is absolutely enchanting along with that all important atmosphere of mystery about it. Like a big mantra ‘Maschine’ is a repetitive instrumental exercise, ever building and weighty and mechanical as the title suggests. It puts you in a complete trance before final number ‘Herz’ another lilting and somewhat minimalistic number of slow drumbeats and vocals suddenly booms into action and drops everything into the mix before a piano outro sombrely wraps things up.
Could Dolch be the next big hip attention seeker that have the glossy magazines falling over themselves? Well that’s distinctly possible if the band are looking for any recognition. At the moment though they are very much hiding in the shadows but I’m glad they loomed out momentarily to bewitch me.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)