Fragments by The Black Dog
Who says you can't teach old dogs new tricks?
The Sheffield Ambient/Techno crew always keep things fresh. Fragments (must be album number 15 or 16?) is up there with Scarecrow in terms of engagement, containing some of their most melodic and searching music to date – stripped back, dubby and contemplative; very fitting for the current climate. This time though their working methods changed:
Fragments was a completely new way of working for us. We’ve always worked with an internal brief, creating documents, pictures and videos, simply because keeping an idea on track with three individuals can be difficult. It's easy for someone to be edged out of the creative process when the focus is not clearly defined.
It’s a formula we’ve used since the early 2000s, but things have changed a lot since then, particularly when we decided to dip our collective toes into supporter memberships with Patreon. It made us think about what we could do directly for our supporters rather than just the next album or project. At first, the whole thing felt odd and uncomfortable, but we decided that we’d try a few things and ask for feedback.
"Fragments" was initially a way for us to see how we could include others in an ongoing creative process. There was no over-arching concept, no defined characteristics or purpose, just the promise that there would be at least one new track for members to download every month. Consequently, we never knew what was coming next, so the old, very focused working method was irrelevant. It was difficult for us to let individual tracks go without knowing what was coming next, but this also made the project more interesting.
And then C19 hit and we were forced to continue the project remotely from our home studios. As difficult as the disruption was, it was during this period that we realised we could re-organise and remaster the individual tracks into a coherent album, capturing a specific moment in time and drawing a line under the first phase of the project.