Andy Dobson has been creating music since 1997 and yet incredibly this is only his second album. It comes as no surprise to discover that one of the projects he has worked on was a tour of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining where he gave the score an overhaul.
Save Your Light For Darker Days could easily be a score for a film real or imagined (and oh how I hate those people who create scores for imaginary films), although if it was, it would be the most chilled out and relaxed movie you’d ever seen.
To pick this album apart bit by bit is a futile exercise as Digitonal’s music can’t really be divided up into songs as such and the mood of the album as a whole is fairly consistent throughout. There’s nothing here that could accompany an unexpected axe to the chest or a frantic chase around a snowbound maze.
Opening track Ana Kata sets out Digitonal’s stall perfectly: harps and strings wash over each other like a heavenly overture while a thunderous bass drum tries it’s best to cut through the waves of classical vibrancy. It doesn’t quite manage it to begin with, taking a back seat and allowing the orchestral nature of Digitonal to wow the listener with its sweeping bows and tumultuous build ups.
Only on Silver Poetry does the glitchy electronic side come to the fore underpinning yet more wonderfully orchestrated movements.
It is this melding of styles that makes Digitonal such a wonderful proposition. Admittedly they’re not the first to make such a meeting of styles, but the mix throughout Save Your Light is perfectly balanced with neither style really taking the primary focus of the listener for any great length of time.
In addition, it is feels as if one could not really exist without the other. Without the orchestration, you’d have some fairly ordinary beats but without the beats, you’d feel the strings and vocal harmonising would be without focus.
Surely a slot on any chillout albums this year is assured, as is a place on many a coffee table in the more clued up households around the country. But to dismiss this as mere background music would be doing Digitonal a disservice.
Yes, it’s mightily chilled out, but to have it filling in the background to social situations is a waste. Cranked up loud, the bass is electrifying. If the bass doesn’t get you then the throb of the cello will. Those string swells deserve to be at a volume that makes your eardrums strain under the pressure.
You can feel the influence of Orbital, Aphex Twin, and on A Lighter Touch there’s a hint of Jakatta about proceedings, but although those influences are obvious Digitonal stands on its own easily. A electronica album, a great classical album (check out the almost mediaeval stylings of Gone) Digitonal has it all. Don’t waste it.