Music News


Martin Dosh is the proud recipient of an English degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz. But, he concedes, "I'm obviously not doing very much with it."

That's because Dosh has stopped penning the short stories that were once his forte in favor of electronic music like that found on The Lost Take, a charmingly eccentric new disc issued on the Anticon imprint that's largely lyrics-free.

This creative shift shouldn't be interpreted as a symbolic jihad against language. Indeed, Dosh thinks he may get back to literature eventually. But he also believes that notes can be more evocative than even the most artful sentence. "They can mean ten different things to ten different people," he says, "as long as you get some emotion into them."

Such passion is Dosh's birthright. "My dad was a parish priest in Minneapolis, and my mom lived in a convent and was studying to become a nun," he notes. "It was this totally forbidden situation, and from the time they met to the time they got married, something like ten years passed. It's pretty romantic and awesome, and I consider myself lucky to be here." His folks were social activists, too, which explains why his full name is Martin Luther King Chavez Dosh. The moniker "gives me a sense of hope about the future of the world," he says.

His music has the same effect. Among the highlights of Take (as well as one of the few tunes on the CD to incorporate a little singing) is "Everybody Cheer Up Song." This track, and most of the other material, is built from electronic loops that put minimalism in a more pop-oriented context. But they don't feel cold and clinical, in part because of the presence of guitars, clarinets and other traditional instruments handled by indie scenesters such as Chicago-based Andrew Bird and Erik Appelwick of Tapes N' Tapes.

Additionally, Dosh plays drums in the studio and live, triggering sounds from assorted high-tech gear while simultaneously pounding on his kit. "I basically tour with the same setup I record stuff on," he points out. "It's about getting to the point where I'm relaxed and feeling at home even though I'm on stage in front of a crowd -- which is why I never have a set list. I have about 25 songs I know how to play, and I sort of just wing it."

In concert, Dosh generally performs solo, but for this round of dates, he'll be accompanied by Michael Lewis of the Happy Apples, who will contribute keyboards, percussion and saxophone. "I'm glad he's coming," Dosh concedes, "because it can get lonely up there. You're kind of in your own little world."

At least English isn't required.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts