Who Let the Dogs Out?

Stray Dogs
And The Days Began To Walk
UKRAINE KVITNU 48 CD (2016)

On paper there’s not a lot to distinguish the murky, downtempo minimalism of Belgian post-techno duo Stray Dogs (Frederik Meulyzer and Koenraad Ecker) from peers such as Raime and Emptyset in that well-eked theatre of interstitial operations, though they do show gratifying humanity where po-faced aloofness is often the norm. Their take on industrial techno subordinates the pre-sets to man-ufactured polyrhythms that see muscular limbs reaching through perpetual darkness; tribal drums clattering through cinematic synth-scapes and dub effects echoing the much-loved motif of urban decay. Constant tension between these dynamics amasses a potent, ritualistic energy.

So, while And The Days Began To Walk is likely to please many a serious and sedentary listener, messrs Meulyzer and Ecker often write with choreography in mind: their work over the past few years has included commissions for theatre and contemporary dance as well as more standard AV collaborations, and on this occasion choreographers Ina Christel Johanneseen and Stephen Laks benefit from their competent composition. One earlier video shows the pair blasting live cello and drums onto a set piece that sees a sea of lithe bodies contorting like molten rubber zombies in one turmoiled tableau after another. The musicians remain partially veiled throughout, as if to blur into uncertainty their diegetic relationship to this frenzy. Thus this album slots easily into the ‘soundtrack without a film’ category and it might have been a contender for a place on the new Blade Runner soundtrack, were that not already taken. It might even have had a cleansing effect on such doggerel as the ‘rave’ scene in Matrix Reloaded, though this association would probably have killed the duo’s credibility altogether.

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