Dosh’s “The Lost Take” is the soundtrack to the life of a girl who always walks with her head down.
The album blends the musical equivalent of the peripheral sounds you ignore while walking down a busy street into a cohesive whole that is definitely worth noticing. Despite being highly experimental, the album is unexpectedly natural, personal and compelling.
Because of the unfamiliar way in which “The Lost Take” uses sound clips, the album is not initially recognizable as music. It does not draw the right kind of attention to itself: While the average song has audible forethought, songs on “The Lost Take” sound like they appeared in Dosh’s brain spontaneously. And, while some music either fades into the background or demands to be heard, songs like “Um, Circles and Squares” emphasize the movement of sound from the background to the forefront of your consciousness. If you listen to “The Lost Take” while out on the street, traffic noise, snatches of music from open car windows and bits of conversation seem to fit in with the sounds of the album.
Listening to the album creates the sense that everything on the outside is a fantasy. Just as dreams draw upon experiences and thoughts from the day, mixing disparate elements into bizarre scenarios, Dosh splices unrelated musical elements together. The songs are a mishmash of noise that comes across as dreamlike without being whimsical. Dosh takes seconds or even minutesAt any given time there may be a xylophone, a live recording of drumming a guitar and an electronica tune playing simultaneously, as on “Mpls Rock and Roll.” It is perhaps because the album meshes distinct and uncomplimentary samples that it makes reality seem arbitrary and surreal.
The beauty of the album and the source of Dosh’s artistry lies not in the recordings, but in the way he assembles them: He does not record songs, he splices sound bites together to create music. As a result, the album comes together entirely from Dosh’s choices (including, for example, the decision that a synthesizer line, a simple selection of piano music and children chanting goes together). Though there are vocals, they are not lyrics and — with a couple of exceptions, like the stunning “Pink Floyd Cowboy Song” — they are not sung. The spoken vocals are mainly restricted to single phrases, like a chorus of Dosh’s drum students saying, “Fireball, burning in the sky.”
The album conveys the idea that the actual music arises after the musicians have finished recording, when Dosh is left to his own devices. “The Lost Take” is not a collaborative effort, but a compilation of the people and sounds Dosh wishes to feature. The album comes off as an imagined existential journey in which nothing is real, and coming to that understanding is a solitary procedure. The album has a pervasive, alluring eeriness. “The Lost Take” is not melancholy, but demands isolation. It is a lesson in how to be alone.