Dot Allison Consciousology
- Sonic Cathedral
- 28th July 2023
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- Dinked LP
- “Flax flower” blue vinyl * Exclusive alternative sleeve artwork * 12” art print signed by Dot * Limited pressing of 400 *
Dot Allison returns with a new solo album, Consciousology. After over a decade away, the former One Dove singer and songwriter broke cover in 2021 with Heart-Shaped Scars and this new album follows just two years later, as she hits a purple patch of songwriting. It’s also her first full release for Sonic Cathedral after contributing to Mark Peters’ acclaimed Red Sunset Dreams last year.
Consciousology finds multi-instrumentalist Dot joined by the London Contemporary Orchestra, her new labelmate Andy Bell from Ride, who plays guitar on two tracks, and Hannah Peel, who is responsible for some of the string arrangements with both the LCO and a stellar group of Scottish string players. It expands on the styles and themes of the previous album, all while pushing everything just that little bit further – the songs sound bigger, more avant-garde and experimental and, occasionally, properly out-there and psychedelic.
“I wanted to make some albums that felt like a set, exploring love, what lies beyond the visible and how all these aspects dovetail together,” explains Dot. “I see Consciousology a more psych Heart-Shaped Scars with a far fuller, more immersive sound and so, in that sense, it’s a more wayward, bolder, rule-breaking partner.”
Right from the eye-catching artwork by PJ Harvey collaborator Maria Mochnacz it definitely does not play it safe. It veers from the techno-played-as-folk of opener ‘Shyness Of Crowns’ and ‘220Hz’ and the Linda Perhacs-meets-The Velvet Underground chug of the first single ‘Unchanged’ to the Mercury Rev-style fantasia of ‘Bleached By The Sun’, the Brian Wilson-esque harmonies of ‘Moon Flowers’ and the kaleidoscopic colour trip of ‘Double Rainbow’. Elsewhere there are echoes of Desertshore-era Nico, Jack Nitzsche’s work with Neil Young, Karen Dalton and Anne Briggs before the relative simplicity of the Tim Hardin-inspired closer ‘Weeping Roses’. It’s a brilliant, breathtaking record.
The title, which brings to mind Maureen Lipman’s classic 1980s BT adverts (“you get an ’ology, you’re a scientist!”) might feel playful and light-hearted at first, but has a much deeper meaning, and one which makes sense of the album’s dedication to its biggest influences: Dot’s musician mother and botanist father.
“For me, it is an imagined voice of a conscious universe expressed through music,” explains Dot of the over-arching concept. “It’s a plea, an embrace, a longing, a last gasp, perhaps… imbued through the music, voice, harmony and a harmonic composition, with the lyrics taking an interest in the differing levels of consciousness apparent in all self-organising, natural systems.
“It takes a less mechanistic, inanimate but more infinitely complex view of the nature of reality and how feelings of love and loss – and consciousness itself – are potentially less ‘molecular’ in nature and more electromagnetic.”
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