Review by Graeme J. Baty
I stumbled on Dextro via a recommendation from a fellow music enthusiast. Curious to find out more I headed to their website and paid a humble fee of £4 to buy the download. Worth a punt I thought, comparatively what else can you get for £4 these days? A pint, a sandwich, a posh coffee with all the sickly trimmings? It’s a tiny amount and I happily invested in this album.
Dextro is a Scottish instrumental solo project, weaving a magical and immersing musical experience. I am late ‘to the show’ as they say, this being Dextro’s third LP. But better late than never. After about 4 songs into my first play of the album I was completely engrossed. I even uttered the words ‘this is f**king awesome!’ out loud. Since then I’ve spent a fair bit of time dissecting and living with the music. Here’s what I made of it…
‘Evacuate’ opens with a phasing synth riff that Shitwife would be proud of, which left me unsure as to where this musical journey will go. It’s a pleasant almost ‘dance’ like track. The synths make way for a soothing bass repetition, which is where it really locks in. The opening track feels like a bit of a curveball, the rest of the album is less ‘upbeat’ for want of a better word. This is not my usual cup of tea (although many will know of my love of instrumental and post rock) but this music transcends genre pigeonholing and I am eager to soldier on.
‘Amor fati’ is a mellow piano theme with drone. Winding it’s way into a delicious guitar arpeggio. This is where the album becomes much more intriguing than I had initially anticipated.
Three tracks in and ‘Break off’ hugely raises the bar, at this point I’m utterly hooked. With it’s jarring pulsating tones. It’s a standout track on the record for me. Stunning.
The pace changes again for next song ‘Clearing’. Soothing piano tones lull me into a mellow mood. Gorgeous and organic sounding reverb.
‘Silent’ with its sweeping synths opens side B. It feels like a deep breath before the plunge into the second half. It also has the albums only hint of vocals. ‘The passage’ has a great striding beat lifting the tone away from the previous sombre tracks.
‘Sum poly’ was the track that enticed me to buy the album in the first place. Winding, looping, lush guitar motif. It clicked instantly when I initially heard it.
I am growing weary that the end of the record is coming. Time seems irrelevant at this point, I don’t want the music to stop. ‘Occupy’ closes the album with a beautiful piano motif, which rumbles and fades to the end.
I immediately put it on again. The length feels right at 42 minutes, not too long and not too short, however I do want more!
The songs are sonically well paced, and placed in an an order that traps you, you aren’t going anywhere until you’ve heard every last note on the record.
I’m glad I obtained a physical copy too, the artwork plays a big part of the vibe. It’s a musical journey which the album cover acts as a metaphor. The winding road through huge soundscapes in a barren but starkly beautiful landscape. As a photographer by trade, it’s music I can really visualise. It is begging to be made into a short feature or even a movie soundtrack.
Everything feels and sounds well thought out, planned and perfectly executed. I just want to disappear into a world of my own, in the middle of nowhere and play this as my soundtrack to a nomadic life. It really does feel like you’ve been on a journey listening to this album. A calm isolated journey of reflection and self analysing.
Equally it works in a busy world (I’m writing this staring out of a window in rainy Newcastle). I can vision myself sitting back and watching the modern world buzz past like flies while I indulge purely in the music. This is truly visionary music. I wonder if that’s why it appeals to me so much? Music is after all an escape from the day to day dredge of 9 to 5. Like a warm blanket on a bleak winters day. There is comfort to be found. Turn it up and tune out from the day to day bullshit of life.
There are a whole host of amazing artists around Scotland at the moment (and throughout the years) I anticipate Dextro will gain a lot of respect among his peers, this is a truly remarkable body of work. His talent on display is enviable. A quick chat with Ewan via email revealed a modest and enthusiastic character.
I adore this album and I hope my ramblings inspire a few people to listen. Although it’s only just turned March, I am positive this will be one of my albums of the year, and I’ll be listening for years to come. A masterpiece. My next move is purchasing and devouring his back catalogue.