Album Review: Dosh – Tommy

Dosh – Tommy
anticon: 2010
Purchase on Amazon

One of the best things about hip-hop (and really all contemporary music for that matter) is the fact that the lines between genres can be intentionally blurred. Certain artists borrow from the wide range of sources available to them while refusing to be boxed in by a certain tag. Therefore it is with hesitance that I announce that Dosh’s most recent record, Tommy, is a wild adventure in left field hip-hop, because it really isn’t hip-hop at all.

The opening track, “Subtractions,” is a quirky foray into glitch-hop that shows Dosh’s passion for irreverent sounds and electronic music. Layers of instruments shower the listener, all somehow weaving together harmoniously. As with past Dosh records, Andrew Bird hitches a ride, lending soft vocals to “Number 41,” which is where it becomes blatantly evident that Dosh has dismissed the “hip-hop” tag as he turns to alternative/indie rock. This sentiment is complemented by the mellow acoustic guitars that adorn certain tracks, and the playful electronic synthesizers that drift around in others. That said, many of the drum sequences still recall hip-hop, in that it would not be difficult to imagine an emcee rhyming over the mostly instrumental tracks.

Dosh’s focus on Tommy falls on the sincerity of the music first and foremost. There is a warm, lighthearted feeling evoked from the tracks as they evolve in sequence. The deep pianos on “Loud” and “Country Road X” provide a calm, dusty ambience. Dosh takes care to delicately balance the instruments on each track, making sure that no one sound overpowers another. These tracks also do a terrific job of changing up the tempo of the record; they allow the album to slow down for a bit, as if the music is taking a deep breath.

Tommy excels because the music is not restrained by any music genre guidelines. Using everything from afrobeat to idm, Dosh does it all, yet manages to find a way to make the entire project cohesive. Furthermore, the music is highly engaging because it challenges the listener to really think. See if you don’t get just the least bit philosophical during the distorted portrayal of addiction in “Gare De Lyon.” It is this type of intelligence that makes Tommy a rewarding listen in every sense.

★★★★☆

4 out of 5

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