Monday, May 09, 2011

Thomas Dolby and Mark Knopfler

I've been a huge Mark Knopfler fan since I heard the debut Dire Straits album in college. I've seen him, both solo and with Dire Straits, several times, and have tons of his music recorded in various forms.

The other day I was listening to the NPR podcast "Fresh Air" while out skateboarding, and Thomas Dolby was featured. I've never really liked Dolby's music, it's a bit gimmicky for me, but it was easier to keep listening than to stop and fast-forward the podcast, so I kept listening.

The Dolby interview turned out to be very interesting indeed. Dolby has totally changed his approach to music since his early, gimmicky, "Blinded Me With Science" sound. These days, he opines, anybody with a $1.99 iPod app has access to better synthesizers than he bought for half a million dollars way back when, so after not making any new CDs for 20 or 25 years he is coming out with a new work called "Oceania" which features something very few CDs today have - good songwriting craft, real musicianship, and very few tracks. As the podcast wound down, one of the Oceania songs was played, and it was outstanding. I made a note to check it out.

Oceania has not been released yet, but an EP has, and I got a copy. If the record is anything like the EP, I will definitely buy it.

I checked out Dolby's web site, and there is a terrific video of his visit to Mark Knopfler's personal studio in London to have Knopfler record a guitar track for the Oceania song "17 Hills". Dolby plays back about a dozen tracks Knopfler laid down, and then demonstrates how he weaved snippets of the various guitar licks into the track he actually used.

Fascinating stuff, and a real treat for Mark Knopfler fans like me. Check out "17 Hills Dissected, Part 2 of 3"

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