The Black Dog: Tranklements (Dust Science)
Ken Downie continues his ongoing collaborations with the Dust Science guys on this stellar new full-length. “Tranklements” is Sheffield slang for assorted precious objects, and the Black Dog consider this collection of tracks to be unrelated ideas that each stand on their own. Tranklements as an album may not have the immediate appeal or element of surprise that their Liber series did for me a couple years ago, but it has a magnetism that keeps me coming back for more. It’s a long album with a variety of electronic tracks broken up by interludes or “Bolts.” With such an expansive canvas with which to work, the trio are able to explore both the more cerebral, introspective side of their repertoire as well as the more overt physicality of the dancefloor. Tracks like “First Cut” split the difference effortlessly, with an airy ease of musicality while still a great track to get a dancefloor moving. But interestingly, over time, what’s really made Tranklements a gem to me is the number of tracks that seem unconcerned with trends or compatibility. Opener “Alien Boys” sets the tone nicely, but I especially like the leftfield groove of “Hymn For SoYo” or the updated Artificial Intelligence vibe of “Atavistic Resurgence.” I’ve read reviews that seem unsure how to receive these tracks; compared to their concurrent Darkhaus series and their previous album and accompanying releases, I’d say Tranklements is simply the collective doing what they do well without having anything to prove. They can still throw down on the floor as well as ever, as indicated by tracks like “Cult Mentality” and “Pray Crash II” (the latter being a real highlight), but Tranklements is more about the journey than the destination. Indeed, each object reveals its own special beauty over time. And so I highly recommend that listeners explore it with patience and an open mind. While it might not make a strong impression, the album has staying power. My appreciation has grown from a more casual shrug to generous enthusiasm.