ABOUT DOG CHOCOLATE
DOG CHOCOLATE sound like a crowded room but are actually four individuals from London. Having played in many other bands including Yeborobo, Limn and Gasp! Cracking Eggs, united they recognise Dog Chocolate as their one true love.
Abandoning notions of elegance, cred and professionalism they embrace the ramshackle, instant and fun, capturing a vivid spontaneity with their music. 'Snack Fans' is the band's debut album, following on from 2014's release 'Or', a split LP with gastronomic kin Ravioli Me Away (released by Upset The Rhythm). 2018 sees the release into the wild of the 'Moody Balloon Baby' too, Dog Chocolate's second full length album!
DOG CHOCOLATE RELEASES
MOODY BALLOON BABY
UTR107 | LP | 13 tracks, 25 minutes | Buy
What are Dog Chocolate bothering us with now? What is it? They have a new album called 'Moody Balloon Baby'. Musically it's as frantic and frayed as we've come to expect, loose and whittled to a sharp point, but the knots are visible. Following the album Snack Fans (2016) and Or, a spilt with Ravioli me Away (2014), this time it's all faster and there are more textures.
Textures that come to mind:
*A plastic broom that has been used to sweep up glowing embers and the bristles have melted
*A pink chalk that got stepped on
*A green beam from a laser-pen scuttling around on a pebbledash facade
*A biro shoved through a custard doughnut
The band are four people:
*Jonathan hits 2 drums and a cymbal with force and conviction
*Matthew plays his guitar through an array of confounding soundhouses
*Robert has no soundhouses but his guitar fingers are deft
*Andrew tends to a pocket menagerie of homemade percussion, keyboard and harmonica
Andrew could be said to be singer number 1, with Robert and Matthew singers 2 and 3 respectively. On this album Andrew and Robert often trade verses, like the Beastie Boys. The band members love each other very much. Emotionally the lyrics veer from whimsical, to angry, to silly, to sad, often in the same song.
Some of the subjects addressed include:
*The post-colonial discomfort surrounding museum displays
*The enigma of rocks
*Wanting to be tiny and free of responsibilities in the face of the massive world
*Environmental concern/internet guilt
*Cosmic aligned co-incidences and why to trust them
A recurring theme on the album is an investigation of the creative act itself. What does it mean to make things? Does it matter if those things are ignored or forgotten? Why be in a band at all? What are the problems with the Genius narrative? Is it ever OK to use animals in your art? In the face of a weird world getting ever weirder what role does art play, if any at all?
The Jury is out on whether Dog Chocolate is a self-help band or an ideologically foggy protest band, but in just under 25 minutes the band manage to cram in bucket-loads of ideas, mess, confusion and fun. Now all that is left to be done is to round off this press release with a perfectly pithy finishing line.
UTR077 | LP | 14 tracks, 26 minutes | Buy
'Snack Fans' is comprised of 14 bite-sized nuggets high in salt and sugar content. The sound is a shabby, fast, over-excited ball of wet fur falling down the stairs, knocking over plant pots along the way and staining the carpet. With an average song time of 2 minutes, Dog Chocolate are on to the next treat before fully digesting the last. Chewing up bits of punk, post-punk, noise and pop, Matthew and Robert's guitars race around each other like wasps, pitch-shifting and phasing all over the place while Jono's rolled-up-newspaper drums chase them round the room. Andrew's occasional impressionistic keyboard flourishes add further colour to the scene, whilst Andrew and Robert take it in turns to sing with the others joining in occasionally.
Lyrically the album deals with themes domestic, emotional and metaphysical: purging your life of material possessions, cosmically ordering a pet, memories evoked by the tactile properties of objects, the impermanence of the body, confusion, holidays, environmental concern and hay fever. There are moments of flippancy and silliness, but also of investigation and introspection.
On 'Emotionally Buff', Andrew tells the tale of an ill-fated band he played in called Mature and how their music was a kind-of primal scream therapy for the angst they felt at the precariousness of their living conditions. "My bed was an increasingly mouldy futon, surrounded by towers of boxes of all of my stuff, I was awoken at 5am by a burglar, whose t-shirt was inside-out and back-to-front" admits Andrew with his often anecdotal vocal.
On 'Be a Bloody River', Robert strings together a list of failures and pointless endeavours "I'm trying to coax a sparrow into a cardboard box .... I'm stroking the mane of a concrete horse .... I'm managing a spill with a blood-stained jay cloth...." getting increasingly frustrated. Andrew tries to calm him, urging him to let his troubles wash over him "be a river, be a bloody river", Rob responds in mock desperation "I'm trying to be a river, I'm trying!".
In just over 25 minutes the band gleefully assemble a roller-skate of sound held together with sellotape and blu-tac, just robust enough to reach it's destination as it's chucked downhill. It's an album packed with ideas and momentum, no need to set the table, Dog Chocolate are in a rush. If 'Snack Fans' doesn't satisfy your appetite then you'll need to fix yourself a feast or something.
UTR063 | LP | 14 tracks, 33 minutes | Buy
Here's a new installment in Upset The Rhythm's split LP series, that's previously seen Gary War, Purple Pilgrims, Please and Spin Spin The Dogs swap sides most recently. This record teams up like-mindedly loopy, art-damaged Londoners Ravioli Me Away and Dog Chocolate. Inspired by an evening when both bands performed at London's DIY-hub Power Lunches this LP came together through mutual appreciation, as well as gastronomic necessity.
Never dwelling for long, Dog Chocolate treat us to songs about pregnancy, poisoned eyes, public transport and cakes. Their observational, often candid lyrics match their nonsensical attitude to their music too, which tumbles and chases pitchshifted guitars through thick forests of feedback and blasting drums.
"Tony's umbrella, Tony's umbrella, it's made of aluminium and replica leather" deadpans Rob on their anthemic retort to the possessive brolly owner before Andrew joins him to whip it up into a frenzy. It all leaves you convinced in the old adage that if you put a bar of dog chocolate next to bunch of bars of normal chocolate, it might look the same but it ain't the same, because you know it was made by dogs!
'Dog Chocolate / Ravioli Me Away' makes for a winning split LP, showcasing London's glorious underground. When the menu arrives this tasty, who needs three courses? Limited to 500 copies on 180g black vinyl with printed insert and dual sleeve.