Dolphins Into The Future Dolphins Into The FutureThe Music Of Belief
Joe Orton said that the problem with modern society is that there is nothing left worth hiding. Something similar has happened with contemporary musical taste: there is hardly anything left to be ashamed of. Any genre, however deplorable it may have seemed, however highly-criticised it might have been, may be regurgitated at any moment and served as the plat du jour in fashionable canteens. Call it Italo disco, call it flamenco-rock, whatever. It’s well known that once the pantry of “the New” is empty, the appetite of the cool-hunter will continue to search for food. It is also known that happily unorganised access to all the information that can be coded into ones and zeros can give you a good scare. Add this knowledge together, and there you have it. This simple operation explains the unusual interest raised by the proposal of Belgian Lieven Martens, good former noisehead, under the alias Dolphins Into The Future.
In his review of “The Music of Belief” for The Wire, Simon Reynolds mentioned the need to let go of any hint of cynicism in order to be able to enjoy this album. As usual, he’s right. However, he should have added that you also have to overcome a lot of prejudice to be able to face Martens’ work without bursting out laughing or bursting a vein from pure indignation. To start with, Dolphins Into The Future is criminal: samples of “natural” sounds, and I take it for granted that they are considered “relaxing” –water flowing in a river, waves, breeze, birds singing, crickets, and (yes) dolphins—all topped off with silky synthesiser arpeggios with the delay going full speed. On paper, what used to be called “new age.” No more, and no less. Enough to piss you off right off the bat.
But a second listening, following Reynolds’ advice, blocking the logical phobias of any listener with half a brain, reveals more: an almost telephonic equalising, which is so idiosyncratic that it shows signs of being treacherous, without sharps, and practically entirely located in the middle frequency range; hyperbolic titles ( “The Voice of Incorporeality” and “Observations through the Halocline of the Worlds”, parts I to IX—that’s nothing); obsessively resorting to an underwater sound imagination that is more in line with Jules Verne than Jacques Cousteau... And this is when the truth emerges (and never was an expression more fitting): “The Music of Belief” is not a new-age album (in fact, I doubt that any follower of Kitaro and Andreas Vollenweider would like it). Rather it is a genuine hypnagogic lexicon—the evocation of a faint memory, in this case, of new-age music, which in reality is closer to imagination than to memory. And bordering on irony, I hope.