One of the fascinating things about music is that it has that rare ability to make time seem unreal, as if it can be suspended or slowed down. At times, it is as if we exist in another time altogether. Multi-instrumentalist/performer Martin Dosh, aka Dosh, seems to operate on his own time, and on Saturday, Knox students in Taylor Lounge experienced a time shift into his labyrinthine musical mind.
Dosh looked like a king where he sat, surrounded by a magnificent smorgasbord of gadgets, gizmos and percussion instruments. On his left stood a three-piece drum set, in front of him sat a dissected Rhodes piano, and a set of mixing boards lay on his right. The numerous instruments surrounding him, electronic and acoustic, were either plugged into the mixer or next to a microphone so as to be recorded and looped. He was his own orchestra. As the clock approached 9 p.m., his checkered hat hid his face from view while his lanky limbs moved over the piano pedal and keys. Without a word, he summoned a melody on the piano to start his electronic symphony.
The pieces were long, ranging from five to ten minutes, leaving Dosh plenty of time to place layers upon layers of melodies and rhythms onto the soundscape. The many layers often climaxed in a gigantic and devastating wall of noise. There was something jazz-like about the way he approached the music, like it was a blank page on which he could extemporaneously tell a musical story. At every moment one felt enamored by the fact that the whole thing did not go flying into oblivion.
Dosh’s melodic improvisation on the Rhodes keyboard was interspersed with his explosive live drumbeats. His rotation around his inventory seemed almost unconscious and robotic, like he existed in another dimension entirely. He would often switch instruments in seconds, taking only enough time on one as needed to lay a track down.
Particularly interesting was Dosh’s reconfiguration of the Rhodes keyboard. The top of the keyboard was taken off, giving him the liberty to manipulate the bells of the keyboard directly with his hand. Dosh frequently used this method to create a muffling and muting effect on the keyboard. He also hit the bells with his drumsticks as a way to create a sound similar to a marimba or a xylophone.
While Dosh’s rhythms were by far the most intriguing aspect of his performance and the genre he belongs to generally, the concert was no dance party. Some audience members made attempts to dance, but the disorienting rhythms, and at times a lack of a solid downbeat, often led to a more contemplative attitude towards the music. Junior Mark Farrell and others found it more pleasing to lie on the floor and close their eyes during the performance.
“It’s comfort music…it has a lot of percussion, and that’s something you can enjoy through the ground a lot more,” he commented.
Other people simply found the music to be not much more than background noise. One critic said it reminded him of “Sonic the Hedgehog music.” Junior Kathy Groat, however, felt that it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing that the performance felt like background music.
“I can dance to it, but I can still do homework well…that’s not an insult, it’s a good sign, I think,” Groat said during the performance.
However, even though she enjoyed the music, she still desired a bit more from the live performance.
“I love live performances, but there’s not much physical interaction [here],” Groat said.
Sophomore Matthew Smolinski thought that the mixed responses were not due as much to the performance as to the unpredictable nature of the music.
“I had a good time…it’s an experimental thing, you don’t know how people will react,” he said.
Regardless of the response, it was undeniable that Dosh put on a performance that deserves the utmost respect. In addition, the concert was a great accomplishment for Knox and WVKC. General Manager of WVKC junior Miya Pleines, who was responsible for booking Dosh, felt that the performance was a success.
“This is the first time we’ve done something like this. We decided we wanted to bring a lot of different bands this year…people seemed to enjoy it,” she said.
With the Dosh performance, many new elements were added and refurbished to the scene that will hopefully be part of WVKC-sponsored shows in the future. One element was that the concert was recorded live by sophomore Hali Engleman, which is a first for WVKC. Christopher the Conquered was recorded in studio, but the concert was not recorded.
The concert will be heard on rotation this spring on WVKC.