Monday, March 22, 2010

Dali's Car: A Brilliant Disaster

Dali's Car was a disaster by almost any measurement. The band recorded one album in 1984 with just seven songs on it. That album, The Waking Hour, cost twice their recording budget of $30,000 and was a commercial failure. Most of the tracks on the album were recorded separately by each musician, who sent tapes back and forth. When the two primary personalities behind the band, Peter Murphy (former Bauhaus vocalist) and Mick Karn (former Japan bassist/multi-instrumentalist) finally were in the same room together, they clashed and decided they could not continue working together. While a tour had been in discussion, this squashed any hopes of it ever happening.

Great art is full of tension, and perhaps it was the tension between Murphy and Karn that produced an album unlike anything heard before or since. Karn's quirky, virtuoso fretless bass is the lead instrument, accented by Asian- and Middle Eastern-influenced keyboards, minimalistic guitar riffs, and the jagged and constantly changing percussion programming of Vincent Lawford, the third member of the group. Murphy somehow finds a way to phrase his vocals powerfully over this strange conglomeration of sounds - and the effect is otherworldly. While some elements of the production and the electronic percussion date the album as '80s material, there is something so fresh about the composition and instrumentation that it still holds its magic today.

The below video is a live version of "His Box" for the U.K. television show, The Old Grey Whistle Test.

1 comment:

Krodamai said...