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Michael Dollan – Attest

If I had to describe the music of Michael Dollan to someone in just a few words, I would say that on the evidence of his recently released EP, it sits somewhere between Elbow and Radiohead – which is certainly a good place to be.

On this track Attest,  and others on the album, it is the use of ‘voice as instrument’ which puts me in mind of Radiohead.  This careful blending and integrating of the sound of the voice within the instrumental textures (as opposed to riding on the top of them) is something which has been used effectively by Thom Yorke and those who have gone before him.  Brian Eno and David Bowie spring to mind. 

And before I finish with making comparisons, let me say that this track also puts me in mind of the Beatles. Not just the way Lennon uses his voice as instrument on tracks such as Rain and Lovely Rita, but more for the craft and the care  Dollan puts into his arrangements. The music abounds in lovely little details – the more you listen, the more you hear.  There is melody everywhere – in the bass, in the heavily processed guitar textures, in the synth/vocal backings – no formulaic chord strumming here! 

Nor does he content himself with repeating earlier musical ideas during the instrumental interlude. Here we have some lovely spaced out guitar textures which set the tone for the opening of the next verse.  At the end of this and the final verse, the layers pile up on top of each other. Boundless invention of new ideas which threaten to overwhelm the piece but never quite do. There is control behind the chaos.  And attention to detail continues to the very end where different guitar strands take it in turns to double the vocal part. As I say, the more you listen, the more you hear … extraordinary.

9 thoughts on “Michael Dollan – Attest”

  1. Awesome. Intense but clear. Soft yet harrowing. A bleak vocal whispers through warm guitar and bass like a cold wind passing through a sunny day – a sign of things to come and a mirror of many people’s inner feelings, ‘everything seems wrong’. Great work!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Loved the track and I listened to some more from the album. I was interested to hear what artists David Ashworth heard reflected in the music. I think it shows that we all bring our own sensibilities when we listen to something new. Michael’s vocals reminded me more of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails although backed by real instruments instead of electronic beats. Restrained, yet intense. Also very nicely recorded and mixed. As a bass player myself, I like to hear the bass!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Recently, PJ Harvey’s social media feed has shared content from her 1998 album Is This Desire?, the lyrics to which seem particularly poignant at the end of 2020.

    There are interesting parallels to Harvey’s sound and song structures in Michael’s music. Maybe due to the blending of vocals, acoustic and electronic instruments, and other sounds. Maybe the combination of the bleak and restrained that the various Daves mention above? I echo the Radiohead comparisons too, particularly in how contrasting dynamics and textures do not negate a sense of unity across the EP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alison makes a great point about how contrasting dynamics and textures do not mitigate against a sense of unity. In the ‘olden days’ bands used to plan their set-lists and album track listings so that there was contrast. If you just played a full on rock track follow up with ballad etc.

      More recently with Radiohead, Michael D and others, we are seeing big contrasts within the same track – which is much more interesting. Gives more a sense of drama in driving a narrative. No longer just the preserve of the classical fraternity!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks also to Alison for making the PJ Harvey connection. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent about some of PJ Harvey’s output, but “Is this Desire” [new to me] is delightful. And I agree, there is a strong affinity between her music and the tracks on Michael’s EP. It occurs to me they would make an excellent double bill – either for a tour or a concert. Harvey would make a great job of performing ‘Attest’ and I can see Dollan providing an intriguing reworking of a track from PJ Harvey’s album – perhaps “A Perfect Day Elise”?

      So come on PJ if you are reading this (and I’m sure you are) – once this pandemic is over, take the train to Hebden Bridge and sort this out. I’m sure Michael will be happy to put the kettle on …

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s so incredibly heartening to receive all this positive feedback about my music. Seeing details of my work being discussed, and themes and ideas I presented being appreciated, understood, and articulated by my peers is an invigorating process – and most definitely a highlight of 2020 for me (and would be in any year!).
    The hardest question I’ve ever been asked about my music is ‘What sort of music? / Who do you sound like?’ etc. – reasonable questions, but ones I’ve always struggled with (I held a competition prior to my EP release asking people to tell me what genre to put into Gracenote!) – seeing comparisons to some of my favourite artists in the comments, well quite frankly, I’m delighted!
    In response to David’s suggestion of covering PJ Harvey – I do love that album, and I’ll have a re-listen with that song in mind… And quite obviously PJ, any sort of joint adventure would be epic! 🙂
    As it happens I’m actually not too far off releasing a covers EP, where I’ve chosen songs that have visited me in versions that contrast with the originals, and each with a little story of how they landed…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly the covers EP idea was delayed (at least) by not getting permissions for my version of Lithium, originally by Nirvana – no reason other than they ‘are understandably very protective of his copyright’.

      I have just released a new single from this EP tough, and the ‘b-side’ is my adaptation of Aimee Mann’s ‘Save Me’, which I have put into 3/4 (from 4/4), and composed a new instrumental section in lieu of a verse.

      It’s here if anyone cares to check it out 🙂


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