The book explores Dummy from inside and out, gradually telling the story of the sparks and inertia of its origin alongside an impressionistic portrait of its reception and its place in our culture.


Dramatis Personae


Chapter 1: From the Ether

A storm at sea — One continent talking to another — Childhood experimentation — The voices of the dead — “Mysterons” — Animated dummies — A premonition of misinterpretation — Verbal abuse as a characteristically English means to express admiration — A dog barking — Midsummer night — Nocturnal projections — The paranormal — Acclaim! — An anatomy — Espionage

In this chapter:

  • The Theremin
  • Mysterons
  • Dummy – marketing, critical and commercial success

Extras:


Chapter 2: Memory

Bristol — Violence and BMX bikes — Hip-hop — A Victorian seaside resort — Childhood experimentation — Music, paint, and dance — The Dug Out — Abandoned warehouses — The downland — Burt Bacharach and drum machines overheard from trash cans — The Buffalo Posse — “Sour Times” — Instruments ancient and modern — Films shot through lampshades — Seven Blood-Stained Orchids — The making of tea — Late night crate-digging — Meeting over tea — Songs about Gandhi — London — Bands named after projects, bands named after retirement homes

In this chapter:

    • The Bristol music scene
    • Geoff Barrow
    • "Sour Times"
    • 1960s and 1970s soundtracks
    • Massive Attack's Blue Lines and the Coach House sessions
    • Dave McDonald
    • Collaborators and London sessions
    • Demo tape and remixes

    Extras:


    Chapter 3: Shock

    A cacophony of metaphors — Grunge breakbeats — “Strangers” — The air under assault — Public Enemy — Hard-bop jazz — More tea — A ’79 Chevy Caprice Classic — The Roland TR-808 — The resonant qualities of the human lung — Student housing — Floors and ceilings — Church bells and curfew — Highest tide

    In this chapter:

    • "Numb"
    • The BBC Essential Mix
    • Adrian Utley, hip-hop, and jazz
    • 808s and Miami Bass
    • Dummy as a bass album
    • Sound, acoustic communities, and politics

    Extras:


    4.    Intimacy

    The beehive — State of the art — Magpies — “Vienna” — Just bubbling all day — Nina Simone and Ray Charles — Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. — The right vibe — A guy with a cutting press — A good steak — The Woolsworth — “It Could Be Sweet” — The integumentary system — Not a traditional songwriting situation — Vampires in New York

    IN THIS CHAPTER:

    • Pre-production sessions
    • Crate-digging
    • Sampling and sample manipulation
    • "It Could be Sweet"
    • The song-writing process
    • Film: Nadya (1994)

    Extras:


    5.    Solitude

    Of rural origins — Talk Talk — The listener a composer — A diarist — “Wandering Star” — The planets in their courses — A teenage runaway — Witch music — The noise from the bar — Control and fate — A promise fulfilled — Melody — Photography and mystery — Electronic lullabies — The younger generation


    6.    Narcotic

    Trip-Hop — Lessons — Thinkin’ of a master plan — Acid jazz — Label creep — I cried to dream again — Lullabies and drug songs — “It’s a Fire” — Breaths and lipsmacks — Railway stations and Noël Coward — Impossible sounds — A vocal performance — The big moments — Suspect of certainties — Vocal frying — Oracles


    7.    Alienation

    A plenitude of releases — The trip-hop moment — A plenitude of labels — Making out… and drinking tea — “Numb” — Blade Runner — The absence of rules — “That sounds too normal”— Trapdoors — Roy Orbison — The General Assembly of the International Music Council of UNESCO — Muzak — Shopping carts — The avant-garde — Hearing voices


    8.    Solace

    The sky at war — Rehabilitation — Consolations — The Fender Rhodes — Fusion — A dog — Vintage instruments — Frankenstein repairs — Cassettes — “Roads” — Earth-shattering vibration — A working man’s club band and the London Philharmonic Orchestra — The right syllables — Communication — Mannequins and dummies — Public assembly — Post-apocalyptic drought — Grief — “Roads” — The sensation of evil — Fireworks


    9.    Resonance

    Beirut — An airstrike — We’ll get back to you — Permission — Chet Baker — Jazz quartets and slowed-down hip-hop — Studio trends — Beach guitar — Advertisements and imitators — Swinging London — Cover versions — Noise — Punk — Two mics and a drum kit — A bush radio — An amazing sucking sound — “Pedestal” — EQ and compression — Snares  — A refusal to submit to exile


    10.   Loss

    “Biscuit” — A creative transformation — Sick of love — Song of the South — Genre exhaustion — The problem with trip-hop — ‘The Bristol Scene’ — The denial of tea — Ducking — A martial art — Mono — The trappings of success — The rules — Doubt — A way out — Portishead — Films shot through cymbals — Burnout — Another strange record


    11.   Siren

    Associations — Internet sex threads — Languorous lovemaking — A taxonomy of desire — “Glory Box” — A sample — A Christmas party — Timing — A man with a megaphone — Traditional gender roles — A glory box — Meanings — A night in the city — Stereo — A climax — Noise and nightclubs — A mastering session — The divination of success — Elder siblings — Contradictions — Connections



    Works Cited


    Acknowledgements