Picks and Pans Review: Blinded by Science
Synthesizer whiz kids are a dime a diode these days. What makes 24-year-old Thomas Dolby worth his weight in piezoelectric pickups is his ability to coax a freer, fuller, more human music from the omnificent machine. Dolby's prowess is no secret in the business. He programmed and played the synthesizers on Bruce Woolley's acclaimed 1980 debut album, Foreigner's 4 and Joan Armatrading's Walk Under Ladders. He also wrote and arranged New Toy for Lene Lovich and appeared (for one song) on her above-mentioned new album. The Cairo-born son of an English archaeologist, Dolby released a noted debut album last year, The Golden Age of Wireless. Though his new mini-LP contains only five songs, it is a step forward, a richly imaginative and fully realized work. Dolby's ability is not limited to the creation of surprising, evocative and delightful sounds, though there are plenty of them, from the fuzzy, grunting bass line of Windpower to the echoey, metallic scrapes that flicker from channel to channel underneath the slamming final drum chorus of She Blinded Me With Science. No mere dial tweaker could have given these songs their captivating balance, detail and range of mood. Nor does Dolby's musical vocabulary end with solid-state. The brass and flute parts on Windpower and the violin part on She Blinded Me With Science are as purposeful as they are piquant.