Dot Allison

We Are Science "Mantra"

Dot Allison is best known as the ex-singer of Scottish trio One Dove, which quickly came and went back in 1993. One Dove's detached coolness and dub explorations (courtesy Primal Scream producer Andrew Weatherall) still generated enough earth tones to keep it grounded in dance-pop. In fact, One Dove's sole album, Morning Dove White, sounded like Buffalo Springfield remixed by the Orb. Allison's long-delayed solo outing, 1999's Afterglow, simply moved One Dove's sound forward in time, keeping a vulnerable, human pulse, but only limped where One Dove fluttered.

Three years later, Allison's harshly futuristic Science project contracts her vision but expands her mystery, its ten tracks standing as lonely and bare as windblown trees on the tundra. Allison's formidable soulfulness seems frozen, and as the ice queen moves farther into terra incognita, she goes back to her record collection for classic -- if obscure -- influences from two decades past ("Performance" snags the repetitive bass line from Psychic TV's "Ov Power"). The only hint of life in this wintry landscape is Allison's breathy, emotive voice and her newfound grasp of experimentalism. That pairing gets honed by the production strengths of electro pioneers Two Lone Swordsmen and Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev overseer Dave Fridmann, who imbue warnings like "You Can Be Replaced" with chilling, post-electroclash CGI effects. Allison's remote presence is alternately distant and enchanting, making for a seesaw of prettiness and scariness. The decidedly un-Partridge Familiar "I Think I Love You" comes closest to falling into a happy lilt, but robotically repeats the title as clinically as a list of chemicals.

We Are Science is so icily austere it nearly suffers from freezer burn, plopping Allison in a snowbank of cold synths and frigid electronic percussion. But the real star here is the forbidding, disconsolate atmosphere, as dangerous as life above the Arctic Circle, but occasionally as lovely as the Northern Lights.

 
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