Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thomas Dolby returns with new album

Thomas Dolby - the innovative Eighties musician/producer whose singles “She Blinded Me With Science,” “Hyperactive!” and "Europa and the Pirate Twins" became modern rock radio staples - just released the full-length studio album, A Map of the Floating City.

Notable guests on the long-awaited follow up to 1992's Astronauts & Heretics are Mark Knopfler, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, Eddi Reader and Natalie MacMaster. A special deluxe edition has a second disc of instrumentals and bonus tracks.

The album is divided into three parts. “The new songs are organic and very personal," said Dolby, in a press release. "A Map of the Floating City is a travelogue across three imaginary continents: In Amerikana, I’m reflecting with affection on the years I spent living in the U.S.A., and my fascination with its roots music. Urbanoia is a dark place, a little unsettling . . . I’m not a city person. And in Oceanea, I return to my natural home on the windswept coastline.”

“I marvel at the new landscape of the music business — distribution via the Internet and recording technologies I barely dreamed of when I started out,” he continued. “But this album does not sound electronic at all. I have zero desire to add to the myriad of machine-based, synth-driven grooves out there. The Net has made a music career approachable for thousands of bands — but I hear too few single-minded voices among them, so I’m returning to what I do best, which is write songs, tell stories.”

To help tell them, Dolby recruited ex-Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler on “17 Hills,” a stately song about a pair of lovers and a jailbreak. Juno Award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster contributes to that song as well, while Scottish singer Eddi Reader (of Fairground Attraction renown) is on the luxurious “Oceanea.” Regina Spektor has a cameo on the odd electronica of “Evil Twin Brother.” Imogen Heap can be heard on a swampy "The Toad Lickers."

Elsewhere, "Spice Train" (with a prominent squelching synth) is pure dance, "Simone" is simple  grandeur and the album's highlights: "Jealous Thing Called Love" and "Road to Reno" touch upon '60s Burt Bacharach and Gilberto Gil territory.  

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