Dalhous - The Composite Moods Collection Vol.1: House Number 44 - Blackest Ever Black


Cinematic aural images for the mind on Dalhous’ new album for Blackest Ever Black

Dalhous - The Composite Moods Collection Vol.1: House Number 44

Cinematic aural images for the mind on Dalhous’ new album for Blackest Ever Black

With origins in the beautiful Scottish capital Edinburgh, Dalhous’ sound occupies a niche between the calm lushness of their native city and the clandestine hysteria of London outskirts. Sometimes this juxtaposition brings to mind Iain Sinclair’s psychogeographical explorations of the M25 motorway, where the hazy and picturesque Surrey landscape with its looming abandoned asylums is interfered by a psychotic motorway running beside it. No wonder Sinclair also mentions R.D. Laing in his book, a Scottish (anti)psychiatrist, who was the main driving force behind Dalhous’ earlier albums. Their music has always maintained this tension between the sanity and the madness, between clarity of mind and inner confusion. If their debut LP “Ambassador for Laing” released on Blackest Ever Black was a dark excursion into subconscious vaults, then “Will to be Well” was an exploration of the aim towards clarity. The “Composite Moods Collection Vol. 1: House Number 44” (44) marks the beginning of a new trilogy and feels like the sum of the two previous efforts. Even though the concept differs, R.D. Laing still hangs over the album as the psychological substance of their music remains intact. But that is where the beauty of the Dalhous sound lies.

Even though 44 shares many pulsations with their previous albums, it goes towards a denser and darker path. In this album, colossal rhythms frame the melodies of neurotic chamber grandeur, kosmische ambience and new age tranquility. 44 flows like a continuous piece with minimal interruptions and it is really hard to dissect this album. Lush ambience is layered with the pastoral melancholia of synth pads. And if the two-person drama beneath the album’s concept takes place in house number 44, I imagine this house standing somewhere near the Pentland Hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh or some detached corner of the Highlands. The moods in 44 change very gradually and reflect the feel of decadence or psychotic wanderings, and a challenging path towards denouement. The release implicitly and indirectly brings to mind Leyland Kirby’s work as The Caretaker, which also dived deeply into the mental states and issues of identity. If the latter explored anterograde amnesia, then Dalhous might be associated with fugue states and similar identity (mis)perceptions.

Sonically, the album has a cyclical feel as 44 kicks off with the threatening pulsations and dark ambience of “Response to Stimuli” and closes with the soothing calmness of “Lines to Border”, something not far removed from the bliss of Aphex Twin’s “Selected Works”. The final piece is one of their most beautiful works, where the feeling of hope coexists with sadness, determination goes together with fear of what’s to come. Rather than being a resolution, it might refer to the dramas of further instalments in the series. However, the momentary tranquility constantly finds its way into the album through the breezing arpeggios of “Research Network”, the haunted baroque washes of “On a Level” or “Implicit Use of Abstraction”. The mood of the album is never straight-forward and always contains several layers. The prevalent mood might give way to the one lurking behind as in the case of “Ecstasy as a Mask or a Shield” where IDMish beats and sadly toned melodies erupt into a bright, sun-lit climax.

Dalhous music could be compared to an audio soundtrack for a cinematic psychotherapy session, where the listener takes the roles of both participant and spectator. Quite a significant part of society has experienced what it means to lie down on a psychotherapist’s couch and that is the reason why in a way it is not difficult to empathize with Dalhous’ music and the fictional/real atmospheres it evokes. Full detachment is not possible here, but at the same time the distanced maintained in 44 is very elegant. That is the reason why it successfully enriches inner and outer surroundings with its bouquet of moods of Scottish coasts or nocturnal suburbs.


1.1 Response To Stimuli
1.2 It Itself, Is Harmless
1.3 Running Sheets
2.1 Ecstasy As A Mask Or A Shield
2.2 Conscience Of Nerves
2.3 Research Network
2.4 On A Level
2.5 End Of Each Analysis
2.6 Mimetic
3.1 Content For Feelings
3.2 Zero Point Zero Six Per Cent
3.3 Implicit Use Of Abstraction
3.4 Statistical Order
3.5 Results
3.6 Vestibule
3.7 Everything They Wanted To Hear
4.1 Bahy-Oh-Feed-Bak
4.2 Methods of Elan
4.3 Lines To Border

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About Author

Paulius Ilevicius is a Secret Thirteen journalist, editor and occasional DJ focusing on more dreamy and melancholic soundscapes. Born in post-industrial town of Pavevezys, currently he lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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