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Reviews

Mega Bog
Dolphine Diva Harris , July 16th, 2019 08:00

Dolphine by Mega Bog manages to be mystical but tough, finds Diva Harris

It is ten years and five albums late - and on the promise that I will be met at the door by ‘a Pacific Northwestern rodeo child with an unmistakable laugh, who was allegedly cursed upon conception’- that I arrive at the Mega Bog party. And I realise pretty quickly that I’ll be staying, for from all the squelch and grot of Erin Birgy’s moniker springs, like a dolphin from a puddle or rose from a toilet bowl, the miraculous Dolphine: 36 minutes and 36 seconds of shimmering dirges which could just as easily soundtrack ancient woodland or the night sky as the deepest imaginable depths of the sea.

Recurrent looping synths and electronic strings (particularly prominent on tracks like album opener ‘For the Old World’, the title track, and joyfully freewheeling instrumental ‘Fwee Again’) lend Dolphine its distorted ebb and flow – the quality which unites deep water, deep time, and deep space, and also that which places Dolphine in the same brine pool as recent albums by Weyes Blood (Titanic Rising) and Vanishing Twin (The Age of Immunology). Throughout, gently but assertively thrummed guitar and a voice of disconcerting range (sometimes twee, hushed and childlike; other times booming, echoey and unnervingly warped) are augmented by a rich textural array of percussive sounds – with a complexity and mystery such that it is difficult to differentiate between instruments, or figure out what exactly is making such and such a sound; peal of sparkles, finger on water glass rim, plastic sticking to plastic. And similarly layered and textured are Birgy’s lyrics, where beautiful standalone snatches – "another picture of milk" in ‘For the Old World’; a "third hour prowling through the two-dollar store" in ‘Left Door’; the "healthy deer triplet", "great mouse" and instruction to "write down 'Springtime' for Pamela" in ‘Truth in the Wild’ – slot together in a delightfully abstract fashion.

But to appreciate the whimsy at play here must not be at the expense of noticing the grit and tough shit too. It is all too common for experimental female musicians on a broadly similar wavelength to Mega Bog - Julia Holter, Cate Le Bon and Aldous Harding come to mind – to have the uncomfortable truths they tackle wilfully ignored in favour of sweet trivialities. For all of Dolphine’s cuteness – every crying spider, wind chime, and faerie – there’s an equal and opposite: a trollish man touching a woman without consent, a steaming dirty nappy, another murder. And so Birgy takes matters into her own hands; that her explorations of grief, white supremacy, bodily autonomy, and the plight of the planet might not be taken notice of is challenged head on, when on ‘Truth in the Wild’ she talk-sings saccharinely, tongue firmly in cheek: "Never smother the mystical song that rests deep inside you". Dolphine’s songs are mystical, yes – but by no means are they not also tough, topical and profound.

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