One Dove – Fallen. “Why this empty space”?
Dub versions strip out the unnecessary and leave the bare bones of a song as you are so familiar with the original, you can hear it in your head, even when there is a gap in the track you are listening to. Or there will be something completely different in its place, so that what you are consciously listening to and what you remember listening to from the original version play off against each other in your head. One Dove songs have the same empty space of a dub version, even though there isn’t an original to compare them to.
Fallen starts with 30 seconds of synth rhythm with occasional sighs before the drum kicks in, an intermittent beat every 5 seconds or so, oh so slowly building up to the main part of the song. There’s time, there’s no rush, it’s going to be a joyful rush of music, enjoy the anticipation. Then there’s a spoken word verse for 30 seconds before another synth pulse joins in, regular and contrasting with the quiet rhythm and sporadic clatter of drums, a clatter that should start the song, but several times doesn’t, adding to the anticipation.
Then the chorus, a wash of synth and we’re away – the song proper has started. Bass notes are giving solid foundation and there’s a good groove – all bases covered, singing and speaking simultaneously, it’s all going on.
But even with all the busy musical dimensions, even as the bass drives things forwards and the ear is distracted by all the other sounds playing out, the light airy feel of the song is still present through the synth washes, the sighs and breaths of Dot Allison and the spaced-out drumming. Oh, to be fully conscious of all those glorious noises as they happen.
Although One Dove really ‘happened’ in the early to mid nineties, I was only able to tape a few songs off the John Peel show at the time, a band in the same pop/dance/trance zone as St Etienne and Bang Bang Machine – tantalizing, but somewhat out of reach. Then, when I moved to London a the end of the nineties, ‘Morning Dove Light’ was on special offer in Borders and I could listen to them over and over for a full album. I was living in a housing cooperative at the time – 17 people – a big place. We had house parties quite often and during one, I took the opportunity of sounds booming round the house to let rip in my room with my new stereo and the CD on repeat play. Tolerant as the others were, it was several hours later that a bit of gentle knocking on the door woke me up with the music still blaring out and I switched it off. Not recognizing the music, I got comments about some ’80s tribute band, and I guess there must be some element of that – an ex-member of Altered Images was in the band.
Listening to the song now, the sense of weightlessness in the music is its strength and its weakness. It floats in on the ears and then floats out again, a sweet sensation, but not memorable – a bubble of transience. Maybe tomorrow I will go for something more earthy, more grimey.