Blank Dogs Blank DogsLand And Fixed
Hyperactive like no-one else, Mike Sniper – the man hiding behind the Blank Dogs mask since 2007 – has had time to release seven EPs and three albums over the last three years that are all nightmares put to music in the lo-fi post-punk noise vein. Whether you like his destructive Machiavellian understanding of melody, Sniper deserves our respect, bearing in mind he is the capo of the Captured Tracks label, responsible for waves on the US indie scene made by bands like Dum Dum Girls, The Beets and Beach Fossils. He is the least friendly face of the new New York – the antithesis, for example, of the lovable James Murphy – the other side of the concrete jungle that at the end of the seventies went off on a tangent into the no wave scene. Decades after that crucial subversive movement, Sniper continues with his anti-commercial style making it very hard for us to digest a personal universe that will never be radio-friendly. In spite of that, “Land And Fixed” shows some clearer and lighter points than his previous work, even though he keeps to his modus operandi with numerous overdubs, which is something to be thankful for.
He already said himself, in various interviews, that those who had respect for his label must feel somewhat lost and disappointed. He’s right, although as a consequence this becomes a perfect point of inflection to bring his music closer to those who turn down a band like Wavves without thinking twice. As someone who knows his iPod generation, Sniper decided to release twelve gentler songs which will allow the listener to take them in individually, without overdoing it, as you might already have noticed on the “Phrases” EP. To make it clearer: the album represents the missing link between Joy Division and New Order, the perfect moment to turn your back on “She’s Lost Control” and carefully get closer to “Temptation”, which happens on “Longlights” and “Out The Door”.
It’s a very important step that he can be understood well, even though he does it with the reluctance so typical of him. “Goes By” – a song dressed-up with synthesisers that also float over the rest of the tracks – or the single “Northern Islands” are two clear indicators of the turn Sniper has made on this occasion. Whether it be in the immensity of a brave guitar ( “All Around”) or the nervous and unstable electronica of an arcade game under the shadow of goth-pop ( “Insides”), our man likewise uses instrumental electro-punk ( “Elevens”), and gems like “Another Language” are blessed with a mutated weariness that would sit very well with the Buzzcocks. Sniper shows us a broader palette, moving from supersaturated tones to a more mundane and classic pantone which at the same time doesn’t weaken his previous work at all. On the contrary, having all of the production under his control allows him the luxury of polishing everything he disliked before. This will make it interesting to observe the definitive path he decides to take in the future.
Sergio del Amo
Blank Dogs - All Around
Blank Dogs - Through The Wall