- LP - black vinyl
Midway through At Home, Dog Unit’s debut album, at the end of the record’s fourth earworm in succession, there’s a
pause for breath. It’s the first time the music has come to a halt since the LP began — the first time this ribbon of sound
has been cut, after twenty-plus minutes of motorik groove, nagging riff, and insistent hook — and as a result, it also
serves as perhaps the clearest indicator yet that At Home is more than just a collection of individually wound super-
melodic instrumental rock songs; it’s a suite of music precision-engineered for a single sitting, complete with resting
stops, signposts and tiny diversions in just the right places along the way.
Anyone who’s seen Dog Unit live won’t be surprised by what that pause signifies: indeed, this knack for world creation
has been the band’s MO since their inception in 2019, writing and performing music designed to arc over the course of
an uninterrupted hour, with the four Londoners’ musical idiosyncrasies combining for just the right recipe: Henry
Scowcroft and Sam Walton on guitars that alternate between howling feedback and poised melodicism, James Weaver, a
pop-dub bass maestro whose minimalist style reveals a genius for conciseness, and motorik drummer Lucy Jamieson, the
most reliable timekeeper this side of an atomic clock. Together, on stage or on record, there’s a sense that this isn’t four
musicians, but one 16-limbed creature guiding its listeners on an undulating journey of sleek modernist wonder, like a
bullet train scything beautifully through Japanese countryside.
That half-time pause on At Home might be the album’s most noticeable breath-point, but on closer listening, moments
like that are dotted all over the album, and this focus on flow, aiming to make the entirely instrumental record sing, is
100% played-for. “On tour last year, we road-tested two or three new songs that had a really strong sense of where in
an hour-long gig or on an imagined album they should sit,” explains Sam of At Home’s gestation. “Once those tent-pole
tracks were finished, and once we had a blueprint for the structure of the as-yet unwritten album, we realised the rest of
the music could kind of be written to order: we knew we needed an opener to side two and a midway breather, for
example, and a sort of ‘closing credits’ song, and a climactic moment near the end that led from civility to menace.
“And because we’d already made those plot decisions, we knew what to write, which keys to write in, how long each
song should be, etc, to make sure everything flowed from start to finish as well as possible — we were just answering
our self-imposed briefs.”
Over the course of 2023, then, Dog Unit enacted their meticulous plan, writing and recording in the studio while trying
out newly written parts of At Home at their Servant Jazz Quarters live residency. Each time at the intimate Dalston bar,
the band tweaked and perfected their new material in front of a curious audience who grew into a cult following, drawn
to an unorthodox live show in which a boiler-suited band, seated in horseshoe formation, played straight through for a
gloriously intense unbroken hour of music.
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