Dof: Suddenly Shifting Against The Sky

DoF's sixth album, Suddenly Shifting Against The Sky, finds Brian Hulick still tilling the kind of folktronic ground that other producers abandoned long ago (after seeing the label affixed so relentlessly to Rounds, Keiran Hebden seemingly couldn't distance himself from the genre quickly enough). Not that Hulick cares: the one-man music-making machine is too busy cranking out new tracks to spend time worrying about what's fashionable and what's not.

You'll find no whiff of cynicism or insincerity here; the recording's twelve tracks ooze joyfulness in their breezy blend of acoustic guitars, banjos, mandolins, keyboards, glockenspiels, harmonicas, and beats (programmed and live) that are equally crunchy and rambunctious. Anything but dour, the material's summery in the extreme, and impeccably constructed to boot. That it's also almost entirely instrumental signifies a welcome return to the style of the previous DoF full-length (issued in 2006) as opposed to the two EPs released after, both of which featured vocal-oriented material. Not that Hulick's singing is unappealing, as the modest parade of hushed vocals included in “Strong, Thick Wings” attests; it's simply that it's in the instrumental department that his talents most shine. To his credit, he gets to the point with dispatch, with every track save one clocking in at about four minutes.

If there's anything wanting about the recording, it's that it could do with more contrast. With pretty much every track being effervescent and upbeat, the album could do with a track or two of relative calm to break up the headlong rush and allow one a moment or two to catch one's breath. Eleven songs in, “The Quiet of Their Shadows” briefly rectifies that imbalance during its restrained opening and in the song's middle section but otherwise reverts to form in the other parts. The snakebite electric guitar that intrudes upon “To The Stake” also becomes doubly arresting for being so different from the album's overall sound.

April 2010