Wolves and Wishes, Martin Dosh's fourth official LP, arrives after its architect spent nearly a year on the road-- touring solo and as a member of Andrew Bird's band-- and yet, he sounds reborn. If 2006's The Lost Take reimagined the drums, Rhodes, and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink virtuoso as a full band, his latest restocks the lineup with a fresh cast of collaborators, then stretches out as Dosh masterminds the material (composing, improvising, arranging) with all the explorative wonderment of a debut ablum. Never has our man sounded so free. And to think, there's not a single drum machine in the mix.
"Don't Wait for the Needle to Drop" gate-crashes Wolves and Wishes with rapid vibes, moody piano, and quavering Rhodes eking out a just-perceptible funk groove under stormy skies. As Andrew Bird's violin cuts through, light rays slash the clouds and things get bright, with guitar and bass (Fog's Andrew Broder and Mark Erickson) weaving in and out of the billowing composition. "Bury the Ghost" starts with an aggressive burst of drum then opens into a sprawling, minimal soundscape that doesn't shy from darkness as Bonnie "Prince" Billy wails overtop. The album's first half is brought to a close with the lilting and pretty "Kit and Pearle," piano reverbing as if in a crystal-floored cathedral among clean drums, pedal steel, Bird's violin, and vocals by Minneapolis band Dark Dark Dark.
Wolves and Wishes's second half opens with "Wolves," wherein Jeremy Ylvisaker (frequent Fog and Andrew Bird collaborator) pours on layers of My Bloody Valentine-style guitar while Mike Lewis (Dosh's honorary second man) chases Dosh's burbling synth progressions note-for-note on sax. On "The Magic Stick," the Bad Plus drummer David King stops by to trade alternately blasted and brushed beats with Dosh through a steady groove of piano, guitar and open Rhodes (where the metal tines inside of the keyboard are hit with sticks). Fittingly, the album closes with "Capture the Flag." Here a tightly packed loop of jangle becomes the base for an anthemic track comprising various arpeggiating keys, sampled strings, pulsing sax, and vocal dubs from Dosh himself. All told, it's more melody than should possibly fit within five minutes, but it's beautiful-- which is to say, it's classic Dosh. Most impressive, however, is that for all its breadth, Wolves and Wishes plays straight through as a cohesive whole. Another inimitable broadcast from the Dosh oeuvre.