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coverpic flag Belgium - Full Moon 250 - 01/12/17

Stray Dogs
And the days began to walk

Stray Dogs is a Belgian duo counting Frederik Meulyzer on percussion and electronics and Koenraad Ecker on cello, guitars, and electronics. And the days began to walk is the duo's third album, following Intangible States (Stray Dogs, 2010) and Wasteland (Stray Dogs, Icarus Records/Vynilla Vinyl, 2013). Plus the Kalkar EP (Stray Dogs, 2015), which was recorded in 'the imposing cooling tower of a former power station in Germany', and the score for the theatre piece "Animal" (Stray Dogs, 2013).

And the days began to walk is a six track, punch beat album. It is a recording holding darkness but it's also showing 'light at the end of the tunnel', music-wise. The opening "Phaeton" holds a steady, driving punch. Polyrhythmic. Instrumental mechanics. Melodic electronics. Man machines and human movements. Dance moves, I guess, as the music on And the days... was, according to Stray Dogs, 'composed for contemporary dance performances by the renowned choreographers Ina Christel Johannessen [Norway] and Stephan Laks [hailing from Canada, but based in Sweden] and subsequently adapted to the album format.' "Lethe" is a slower, at times super slow-mo piece of music. Stray Dogs try to explain this for us: 'As the curtain opens, we are transported straight into the belly of the beast: album opener "Phaeton" is an unabating stream of swirling polyrhythms, cracked gongs and growling low-end, reaching ever higher to its own delirious disintegration. A sudden change of gears, "Lethe" is a solemn, stumbling procession with soaring synths and glacial field recordings made in the northernmost reaches of Norway.'

They come in twos, it seems as Stray Dogs continue: '..."Tokoroa" and "Pluvier" are next, with Stray Dogs' signature stacks of snaking drums, corroded orchestras and gyrating arpeggios chasing catharsis through a pandemonium of percussive frenzy.' The entire And the days began to walk is a fascinating collection of sounds and rhythms, pulsating and swirling all over. I guess this project was born in a 2014-2015 contemporary dance performance when the duo composed and performed at the Goteborg Opera House, Sweden, where Stephan Laks is the rehearsal director with the GöteborgsOperans Danskompani. Along with Laks and Johannesen, Stray Dogs made all this music happen.

Over the years Stray Dogs have been making music to and collaborated with video and installation artists, audio-visual performance artists, as well as dance, ballet, and theatre performances. To quote the duo: 'in the past few years, Stray Dogs has performed and/or recorded at venues ranging from freezing squats to beautiful concert halls as well as at an abandoned nuclear power station'. Quite a multi-tasking two-some, Stray Dogs. I'll keep to the Stray Dogs' tale to describe the last pair of tracks as well:
'"Beacons" quietly seduces us into its lair, where danger lurks but the veil is never lifted. The albums's closer, "Sour Vanilla", keeps the pulsating threat looming behind the horizon, shrouded in a haze of amber-coloured chords and dub echoes.'

This album is a remarkable electronic recording. Top notch. The best electronic album I've heard for a while. And the days began to walk sees it's performers to 'explore the outer limits of the push and pull between music and the body: using their signature sonic palette of intricate rhythms, cello, guitars and electronics, they constructed extended sequences of tension and release in constant dialogue with the choreographers & dancers.' (Stray Dogs). Listening to the six tracks makes me want to see the entire performance with dance and all.

Curtain call. Lights up. Applause. Good night.

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