So who (or what?) is Dogtablet. Is it a project featuring members of Pigface, The Cure, and others? Is it electronic? Just how did it come about?

Chemlab's Jared Louche said, “Dogtablet is actually the brain-child of Martin King (Test Dept, Subgenius, Pigface) and Roberto Soave (The Associates, The Cure, Shellyanne Orphan). Martin and Roberto both program and play actual instruments too though Martin writes the bulk of the material. As Dogtablet, they’ve released two superb atmospheric-groove albums preceding “Feathers And Skin”, and though they’ve always had guest singers for a track or two, vocals have never really been the primary focus.

This is the first album that’s had so many voices flitting through it, coded messages racing down the wires, and that’s how I got folded into the project.”

When asked how it all came to be, he replied, “I knew of Martin back in the early 80’s when he was in Test Dept, the shuddering, rhythmically steel-pounding, agitators who were part of the original wave of confrontational, eye-peeling, Industrial shock troops along with Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire, and a few others. We didn’t meet, though, until we were thrown together in the tumbling chaos of Pigface on the Preaching To The Perverted tour. We worked on some offcuts together in the early 2000s when I was first in London, and he crafted the music for “Summer Wind”, one of my favorite tracks off of the career-obliterating stumble of a covers record I made called Covergirl.

Last year, after the first return of Chemlab for Cold Waves, Martin got in touch and said he’d written a song with my voice in mind and would I drop some vocals on it. That first track, “New Cold War” started us on the trail."

Louche continued, "I was immediately attracted to and excited about the music Martin was making.

He, in turn, got excited about the singing I was slinging, like a stain around us in a bizarrely organic way until we found ourselves wandering wide-eyed through some darkly magical overgrown gardens filled with poisonous steel serpents, flashing warning lights, fetid fruit and knotted paths that eventually became 'Feathers And Skin'”.

As for how the music legend met some other members of the project, he added, “I’ve known Jenny Bellestar, who songbirds quite exquisitely on 'Deletion Complete', since that same Pigface tour when I first met Martin. Jen and I were part of the coterie of freaks singing and racing madly across the stage together while Atkins and King pounded skins behind us and the typhoon of other musicians whipped around us. Those were unbelievably strange tours, every one of them.

Sapphira Vee, who sings on Collapsing Lives, is based overseas so none of us got to work with her personally, but her vocals were perfect, so I’m hoping we get to record together more in future."

Recently, BlastingsNews writer Samuel Di Gangi took a listen to the new Dogtablet release and, upon completion, Louche was asked about some of the songs and their staggeringly impressive lyrics.

Jared talks about his lyrics

Song: Taillights Fading

Just as the mildly clanging percussion sounds suggest to the listener that “Taillights Fading” is going to build upon them for a “drop” of some kind, the surprise of what can only be described as sounding like sitar run through a guitar rig shows up and the keyboard bassline sets a somewhat different mood than first expected. The closing solo also adds to the surprise, though it is both short and sweet.

Lyrically, while there is (perhaps?) some hope in the statement “One eye, closes on the day. One eye opens in the stars,” it is immediately followed by the confession that, “I left the window open last night and the darkness flowed inside.” That, compounded with the beautifully written closing line, “a river of neon nights and gutter lights, train tracks and plane flights ..

a river of crow-black sky, and time rivers on, leaving us dry, dust in our mouths, caverns echoing distant voices” work to explain why earlier it was said that “everything turns to something else” is important.

Neon nights?

It makes the listener ask, “What is the something?” and did it turn to something else... no into something else? That, in some ways, can be even more painful... or hopeful?

One doesn't know for sure...

When asked about Talilights Fading song, Jared Louche said, “Since I wrote the lyrics, I know what it conveys and what it means to me, what it evinces in me, but the beauty of writing that engages (and sometimes even mine does that trick) is that it leaves space that’s open for interpretation by the person absorbing it.

There are instances when I want to be unequivocal and precise, but I’m less interested in presenting some immutable images that can only be understood one way. That’s boringly binary, and none of the things that engage my attention in any meaningful way are particularly binary. Beyond death itself, there’s very little about life that’s binary. In my estimation, binary doesn’t really mirror our real-life experience. Not that black and white doesn’t have impact and purpose, but what it gains in impact it loses in conceptual flexibility and evocative strength, at least it does for me."

Louche added, "There are a number of songs where you’ve asked me the meaning behind the lyrics, but you may find me decidedly slippery on this topic due to my views on interpretation.

Meaning’s a strange thing, and though each of the songs in my whole catalog mean one thing to me, I’m loathe to pin them to the display board too specifically. Just because I understand them to evince certain things in me doesn’t mean that that’s necessarily what I want to have happen for the listener. I prefer to encourage a more personal experience of the lyrics. By being intentionally vague to an extent, an invitation is proffered. In the same way, the music’s understood in differing ways by different people, so too can the lyrics have a certain interpretive and conceptual pliability to them. Trust me, if I want to tell the listener to toss a Molotov or f*ck right off, I will. There’ll be no grey area.

“In case you haven’t noticed by now though, I’m not exactly epigrammatic, the Chemlab singer added in an email. "However, if pressed, Tail Lights talks about the inevitable, permanent, cyclical Yin Yang of our days, seasonal shift as Freya battles Woden for ascendancy It’s the struggle to absorb as much as possible before we can’t absorb anything anymore, Life as a sweeping river and what it rushes past as we look the other way. It gazes at all of the silvery, glittering points of light that make up the galaxy of our lives, one sparking to life as another winks out. It’s about what’s missed, what’s captured and trying to remember to do it now before you’re done.”

Beware of the snake — you have been warned

Song: Things Said And Done (Snake Is A Liar)

Louche, when asked to suggest what the song is warning about answered, “We’ve fashioned a world too desperate and dire for us to comprehend its full proportion and portent.

It’s dangerous and complicated, and it cripples our natures, thus we succumb to myriad self-inflicted oblivions, burning our pages long before we’ve read them.”

He furthered, “One of the lines that I excised (though it still informs the whole piece) is: “I was invisible to myself back then. Now I'm invisible to you too”. The things that hook you but negate you too can negate you to others too, and invisibility is destructive. “Snake” is about not being deceived by our greatest personal threats just because they come dressed as satiating desires, fulgently bathed in thrilling light, emphasized by alluring makeup, swirled in lights and sounds you recognize, convincing you they’re devoid of malignant intentions when in fact they’ve come to set your house on fire.

You may let Snake in, but he jealously wants all of you, and getting him out will require everything you have.”

The truth and depth in that insight is almost as powerful as the song itself. It presents a warning that should be heeded.

Song: Hazmat

Louche was asked, “What were you conveying when 'Hazmat' was written,” and he replied, “Omnicore, like Andricon, Pitchblade, Adrenachrome, and a host of others, is a word of my own making. There’s a whole panoply of them throughout my recordings, and they’re meant to be more evocative than specific. It’s some sort of left-handed portmanteau of 'omniscience' and 'radioactive core' and 'obedience' meant to convey a sense of overarching threat.

Also, with apt grace, Louche added in his correspondence, “To me, HAZMAT’s about malign influence, but it’s not anchored to a particular driving engine.

It’s not specifically governments that are destructive or people that are evil, it’s everything around us, conspiring against us, insidiously nudging us off course, violently pitching our barque beneath the churning waves. Its message is the obverse of Skin Job and Shadowlands [other tracks from the CD]. While those songs are about finding ways to build strength internally and externally (confidence and community), Hazmat’s more cautionary, warning that there are virulent strains surrounding us we need to be aware of lest they enter our bloodstream as vectors of infection, corrupting our code. I don’t define them because they’re often different for different people, but everyone battles demons regardless.

Song: Black Dog (Inside The Hound)

Closing out the platter is a song that can only be described, musically, as “droning vibrance.” The use of minor chords and half steps on the string-laden keyboards work in tandem to complement the horror birthed in Louche's lyrics as he warns that, “the dawn is nowhere to be found. The light that gave now too much leave.”

It is implied that images of Jesus and perhaps a bust of the surreal poet Albert Rimbaud is in a room when something horrible crashes through the window.

When, “Lastly, Black Dog... a bust or image of Rimbaud... a Jesus painting or crucifix in a room? How are they all connected as you see it?,” by this author, Louche answered, “It’s a fever dream inspired by a few nights I suffered through when I was living in Paris in the late ’70s. When I first arrived in the city that last time, flying solo, I was essentially homeless. Long story. With my belongings clutched jealously close to me, I scrounged and thieved food in alleyways. I crashed in gorgeous bird-bedecked parks under chilly skies, slept under the sweeping, majestic bridges down by the banks of the Seine or in the enfolding, cloying warmth of the fetid subway tunnels after hours.

Louche continued, "I finally managed to score a rooftop, garret room in the old swamp neighborhood of La Bastille, hard by the roiling street markets and the decrepit old prison. Minuscule and void of electricity, my spot was still home, thus it was with a deep, exhaled relief that I stretched out on the thin mattress and gave in to a ferocious fever that had been building in me for a few days. The lyrics loosely recount my surroundings and the nightmare shadows that flickeringly cast themselves upon the sandstone walls of my mind while I crawled through seemingly endless illness. 'The light that gave now too must leave.' Courtesy of a long string of voluptuous teenage boys and girls I shared my time with, that tiny garret room saw many night-drenched loves, piles of journals and books, sybaritic explorations, laughter and lusts, oceans of wine and reams of pretentious poetry. It was a heady time, once the fevers had passed.”

And with that, one of the most insightful and poetically beautiful interviews ever given concluded. It is as rare as hen's teeth to find a person as deep and well-spoken as Jared Louche. There must be some brainfood in those Dogtablets.

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