Dolby Makes Noise

Englishman Dolby hit double paydirt with a catchy synth-novelty song and an accompanying video just as the pop-synth and music video/ MTV phenomena broke. However, “She Blinded Me With Science” was not his first song, nor does it really reflect what the guy's about. His first album, The Golden Age of Wireless (Harvest ST-12203), was originally issued without “She Blinded Me…”. When the song and video became popular, the album was reconfigured and reissued. Dolby was an instant celeb, and faded just as quickly, though his album Aliens Ate My Buick (EMI Manhattan E-148075) remains a cult fave for both music and sound. Come to think of it The Flat Earth was pretty good as well.

I don't know what Dolby's been up to since then, but this entertaining, superbly recorded and self-produced live 40th birthday EP demonstrates a man who is more a techno-hipster romantic than a novelty song writer, and more a sonic gourmet than a technofile.

Recorded in Half Moon Bay, California “at the end of the twentieth century,” according to the liner notes, in a shed by the Pacific Ocean, the set finds Dolby in mesmerizing form. The carefully drawn arrangements are spare, striking and intimate; the recording, though digital, is startlingly three-dimensional, delicate and transparent. Whatever you think 'digital' sounds like, please check it at the door. This set was recorded on an old TASCAM D-88 multi-track digital recorder off the mixing board and it will amaze you. Don't ask me what engineer Todd Wollersheim did to achieve these results.

Dolby, on keyboards, sound effects, samples and vocals is accompanied by another keyboardist, a cellist and background vocalists. The set starts with “The Ability To Swing,” a track that Patricia Barber ought to cover, if she hasn't already. The synthesized finger snaps sound transparently fake/real.

Dolby also covers a few of his better known numbers like the haunting “One of Our Submarines,” “Hyperactive,” “My Brain is Like a Sieve,” “Screen Kiss,” and Dan Hicks's classic “I Scare Myself.” If you don't know those and only know Dolby from “She Blinded Me With Science,” you will be greatly rewarded when you hear the guy's true musical depth of field.

A pleasant surprise and highly recommended for music and three dimensional, transparent sound-and don't let the digital recording stop you!

Available through ARS! in Germany:

my-avalon's picture

Nice information about the Dolby sound, I have never be heard about the Dolby but after read this article I have taken a bit information about the Dolby. There various kind of Latest wireless video sender and right now they much helpful than the analog systems.