Spanners takes the dense polyrhythms and complex melodies that Black Dog explored on Bytes and builds an engaging and endlessly listenable sonic maze for your enjoyment. At times it's a straightforward techno album, but in true Discordian fashion the styles are random and slippery; the 12 tracks, held together by short musical "Bolts," bob and weave through Latin, Arabesque, and even country styles, ensuring a surprise around every corner. Unfortunately, the Black Dog split up shortly after this album's release, with Ken Downie continuing the madness with a series of decidedly unmemorable albums, and Ed Handey and Andy Turner moving on to create further gems as Plaid. But their legacy remains: Spanners is an album for which the term "eclectic" doesn't quite do. It's simply a masterpiece. --Matthew Corwine
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This is one of the few albums I own that just keeps getting better as it goes on. When the final notes of Chesh are over, you have the urge to hit repeat because it feels like it was just hitting it's stride. Well, that's not exactly accurate because the album is good all the way thru, but the way it builds is amazing. If you only get one Black Dog CD, get this one...then you won't be able to help yourself when it comes to getting the rest. Definately music worth taking time out for...let it surround you and take you to it's reality.
* A really worthless CD, don't waste your time.
** A CD that has some good stuff, but some major defects. Don't bother unless completeing a collection.
*** An OK CD that will please fans of the artist in question but may not convert new listeners.
**** An excellent CD that represents the best work of the artist in question and can be bought with confidence.
***** An absolute classic that is the best, or among the best, of its genre. Your collection should start here.
There is a more ethnic feel to this album. Waves of arabic touches flow in and out of the music on here, lending it more of a middle-eastern feel. But it didn't overpower the usual qualities of their music, the innovative drum programming, melodic tracks, all what we recall from 'Bytes'. It just tended to add another dimension to their music, that's all.