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Dodson and Fogg - Movement In The Exterior World/Music For Strange and Mysterious Stories

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 4 / 5 / 2024

Dodson and Fogg - Movement In The Exterior World/Music For Strange and Mysterious Stories


Malcolm Carter reflects on two new stunning albums from Chris Wade (aka Dodson and Fogg, which showcase all sides to his many talents.

To paraphrase the Barking Bard (badly) “When the world falls apart, some things stay in place, he downloads the latest Dodson & Fogg, with a smile on his face”… but that’s how it was. Dodson & Fogg is the name which Chris Wade releases his musical adventures under. The multi-instrumentalist, multi-talented Wade also authors books, produces captivating, surreal films and has a back catalogue of albums few, if any, of his contemporaries can equal. At times the speed which this artist issues his work is breathtaking and it’s not easy to keep abreast with his latest work. To emphasise just how diverse Wade’s musical output is we’ve combined his last two albums in this profile as they display totally different sides of his work and why he deserves more attention; he’s a true national treasure. Wade has never had a problem in asking for assistance at times in his music. He has a knack for choosing just the right artist for just the right project. And, as far as we know, he seems to get their help with no resistance. With names such as the sadly missed Celia Humpris (Trees), Alison O’Donnell (Mellow Candle), Ricky Romain, Toyah and Nigel Planer all making appearances on previous Dodson & Fogg albums that alone shows that Wade has respect from fellow artists and also displays just how diverse his music is. A peek at his website or his Bamdcamp page reveals that there are two options in owning ‘Music For Strange and Mysterious Stories’ . The ridiculously cheap digital album comes with a free PDF file containing the book that the music accompanies. There’s also the option of buying the same four songs on a CD which is accompanied with a paperback book of the stories. The instrumental music, which doesn’t need to be heard while reading the stories, is an atmospheric 18-minute display of just how fertile Wade’s mind must be. Wade played every instrument on the album and those familiar with his work will already know that his distinctive guitar playing is an absolute joy to listen to. Wade’s music has been described as folk/prog/acid and psych yet to put a label on the sound this artist makes is impossible. There are elements from each of the above genres scattered in all Wade’s albums but (and this may be because of his skill on the guitar) he has created a sound which is uniquely his own. One of Wade’s strongest talents (and he has a few) is his ability to take the listener on a journey with his music; he can transport you to another world. There are times on his albums where the listener disregards what Wade is expressing vocally as the music has already taken you to some far-off place. While these four pieces are set to accompany the stories in the book of the same name this pair of ears found them too mesmerising to do that so far. This isn’t the first time we’ve had totally instrumental albums from Dodson & Fogg, and it isn’t the first time he’s produced a book to accompany his music. But the four tracks on this album are stunning. Every time Wade produces new music, although it always bears his own unique stamp, he, time after time, adds new shades and textures which keep his output fresh. ‘The Rat Faced Man’ opens the ‘Music for Strange and Mysterious Stories’ album; acoustic guitar accompanied by a drone-like sound not unlike a small aircraft (not the first time the music of Pink Floyd will come to mind while listening) before that familiar Wade electric guitar shreds your headphones. Twelve years and around forty albums (!) one can only wonder why more people are not recognising just what a superb all-round musician Wade is, especially on guitar. ‘The Death Of Arthur Kind’ is a relaxing yet chilling piece, another Wade track that will (if not reading the story at the same time) take the listener on a journey they will not want to return from any time soon. Not only is it a haunting piece of music it will also haunt you long after the track ends. Featuring another Wade trademark, that of the tempo lifting towards the end as his searing lead guitar takes off, it’s breath-taking. ‘Roger’s Place’ conjures up images that something unpleasant is going to happen ; an unsettling beginning to the track that accompanies what is right now my favourite of the stories. The track develops into what is really a showcase for Wade’s mesmerising lead guitar; yet again we are left wondering when the world is going to catch up on just how talented Wade is. And still he’s saved the best for last maybe as ‘The Long Black Coat’ is unlike anything that precedes it, piano and wordless vocals lead off on a pretty tune that takes unexpected twists and turns which keep the listeners attention. It’s a fascinating ride and a total change of direction from what went before; even when Wade adds his distinctive guitar it’s the track that takes him into uncharted waters. Another amazing performance and the reason we rate Wade so highly. The stories then; as with his music Wade has a knack of drawing you into his world. As usual with his writing the reader feels they actually know the characters, have visited the location (such is Wade’s attention to detail) and while not actually (thankfully) experienced the outcome we can totally feel Wade’s words. Much like Wade’s music his stories are nothing less than fascinating. Those familiar with Wade’s stories will know what to expect, the newcomers I envy you, for you are in for a treat. Apart from Nigel Planer’s spoken word contribution on track 8 of ‘Movement In The Exterior World’ all the sounds on the album were made by Chris Wade. Released late last year (2023) the eleven songs are all Wade originals, as usual. The title track kicks off the album and instantly with just that guitar sound we know we are in familiar Wade territory. Coming straight off the back of the instrumental album it’s astonishing to think that the two albums were written, produced and performed by the same artist. While it could be said that the sound here is classic Wade, because the soundtrack to those stories was so diverse, hearing Wade back with a rock-based, bluesy, edge was something of a surprise. A pleasant and welcoming one but a surprise that these two works came from the same mind. Wade’s skill on the guitar is showcased here and his laid-back vocals as usual draw the listener in. Not for the first time this pair of ears hear a similarity to Marc Bolan in Wade’s vocals, seems like I’m the only one to notice that but it’s been there from the beginning in all his albums. That title track is difficult to move on from; the sparse opening soon introduces those vocals and after a couple of verses one of Wade’s soaring electric guitar solos makes an appearance blasting its way through making for a breath-taking finale to the song. It’s absolutely stunning. A smart move to follow the track with ‘Getting Lost In The Street’ which is cut from a similar cloth and proves that although at times Wade’s lyrics take second place to his musical prowess he’s up there with Ray Davies, Paul Weller and Difford & Tilbrook with his little snapshots of everyday life. Once again a couple of blistering solos will leave you wondering why this talented guitarist isn’t more widely appreciated. ‘On The Bus’ finds Wade in a more mellow mood; after the two previous bluesy tracks he’s back in dream-like mode. Again, lyrically strong and his acoustic guitar playing is simply beautiful. A tip: try and listen to this song (and the whole album if you can) on headphones for the full Wade experience. Mellow Wade also follows on ‘It’s Down To Me (Get Rid Of The Doubt)’ ; while Wade showing his rockier side is always a welcome sound these more wistful tracks, especially on headphones when you can shut the world out and be totally immersed in Wade’s World for the duration, are a welcome respite from the crazy world we live in these days. ‘Dream Through The Night’ is a catchy melody coupled again with strong lyrics and the song displays one more just how outstanding Wade is on both acoustic and electric guitar. ‘The Birds’ is an acoustic dream of a track; an instrumental in which Wade takes you on a journey; one for those lonely reflective walks or a perfect 3am listen. Shut the world out and just drink this in. There’s not a dud track on ‘Movement In The Exterior World’, ‘What’s Going On?’ is an atmospheric piece questioning what we would all like answers to just now. ‘Of That Contradictory Age’ features Nigel Planer reading one of Wade’s poems, a brave move that potentially could interrupt the flow of the album but it actually achieves the opposite and even though the album would easily retain its brilliant status without the interval its welcome nonetheless. The closing two tracks, ‘My Home’ and ‘Looking Through The Glass’, are classic Wade in reflective, dreamy mode, one of the features that made Wade so popular around these parts all those years and albums ago. Simply beautiful, late ‘60s vibes beautifully shaped for 2024. We seem to say it every time but ‘Movement In The Exterior World’ is one of the strongest collections of Dodson & Fogg songs to date. Without a doubt. Of course that will soon change when Wade releases his nest album. Which will no doubt be just around the corner…

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Dodson and Fogg - Movement In The Exterior World/Music For Strange and Mysterious Stories

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