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The Dolls are Vladislav Delay aka Luomo (Finland), Antye Greie aka AGF (Germany) and Craig Armstrong (Scotland). Huume Recordings are happy sponsors of this collaboration between three solo musicians, admirers and explorers. Craig Armstrong (Massive Attack, Moulin Rouge soundtrack) had heard AGF's (Antye Greie) music and became a fan. He invited Antye to sing on his second solo album, As If To Nothing, and they performed a few successful shows together, with Vladislav Delay as central groupie and sometime performer. Armstrong later recorded a few of the songs off his solo piano album Piano Works in Berlin at AGF/Delay's home studio, dipping into idea-sharing and collaboration. They recorded hours of piano played by Armstrong, bringing in their computers and various studio toys. And at times when the machines didn't do their thing anymore, then the piano itself became a platform for something new, going well beyond "treated piano." The Dolls believe in the soothing qualities in music, both as a catalyst for themselves while making it as well as for soothing frayed nerves for the modern condition. But this trio of authors also believe in the child-like catharsis of music-making, even to the point of nonsense. Using drums, piano and vocals, The Dolls take on character-roles, tell stories, and share intimate personal memory, transforming the pieces into multi-layered musical fantasy. Different generations with various backgrounds, musical ideas and visions meet here and mix-and-match there, leaving behind something you haven't heard before. This is an archive recording of a surprising and uncompromised musical event. Bliss.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Three stars: when I listen to this album, I hear artists' styles conflicting, where they strive to (or should) complement. Even atonal compositions, the ones worth mentioning, have a sort of "organic wholeness" about them that this album, for the most part, seems to lack.
I bought this album due to a recent and remarkable intrigue (a gravity) toward Vladislav Delay's "ambient" productions ("Demon Tracks" and "Whistleblower" in particular). These albums, among any albums of his other pseudonyms, I highly recommend!
Interestingly enough, The Dolls sounds almost exactly as one might imagine it to sound given the three artists involved. Warm, lush piano and string work is layered over the top of crisp, sometimes dub-influenced programming while glitchy sprays burst over it at times. Oh yeah, and Greie adds her half-spoken, half-sung vocals (which seem to be getting increasingly better with each release she works on). In fact, the album opener of "Martini Never Dies" is almost straightforward enough to find itself on an album by Armstrong himself, with slick, dry cracking beats and a wobbly bassline rumbling under minimal piano phrases and some crooning by Greie that sounds almost freestyle at times. "White Dove" chugs out alternating beat patterns under more warm piano and vocals, while frantic bursts of electronics shuffle on the outskirts.
On the album (and group) titled "The Dolls," the group turn in what is basically the theme song from the collaboration as glitch dub beats roll underneath some great interplay between Greie and the ivory tickling of Armstrong. Fortunately, not every single track on the album follows the same pattern as all of the aforementioned tracks, as "Night Active" busts out with a more dancey beat and nary a piano or string to be found while "Choices" rumbles with some poppy electro-krunk and "Motor City" is 4/4 banging with a wobbled-out twist (and some almost doo-wop vocals from Greie). Fans of Armstrong may find The Dolls a bit too strange to digest on first sitting, but those looking for even more unique work from Greie and Delay will find that the collaborative trio (who are all obviously as prolific as hell) has more than enough interesting elements to make it a worthwhile purchase.
(from almost cool music reviews)