Review Summary: This is the one.
At what stage should an artist force themselves into their work？Or – if indulgence is what the reader craves – at what stage should a writer inject themselves into their critique of that work？“Well, never…” might be the correct answer – the less one’s forced to grapple with shallow presumptions about what is “objective” (in art) the better. Yet, for the self-diagnosed egoist, self-effacement doesn’t come without some pains. In order to thrust oneself into the background (or, more to the point, remove onself from the painting altogether), a sort of self-discipline must foreground itself. An ego-killing, masochistic castigation of self. When Doves manipulates a Future interview, then, distorting the Atlanta rapper’s disembodied voice, one can’t help but applaud. “This album is the one,” the voice explains, via the EP’s opener, ‘One’. “An update for the fans.”
What a little sneak.
Seconds later, the voice is rushed with shocks of static. A gorgeous sample of something unknown to the writer – though which, he insists, is no less magical – manifests. For mere moments. Before the song turns to turbulence. Before each of its disparate elements collide, causing it to avalanche in on itself, in a wave of sound that is as much song as it is scream.
Forgoing the sample-verse-feature-verse-sample structure that characterises the better part of the singer-producer’s work, the one-two (three-four, jab-cross-knee-kick) combination that is the EP’s first four track strikes me as something more akin to that of a long metalcore interlude. To elimate all suspicion: there are no breakdowns. But what one can expect over the course of the project’s narrow, ten-minute runtime, is a shit-flinging that is as thoughtful as it is self-negating. Much like ‘One’, ‘Two’ forgoes the singing, choosing to flavour its pulsing, electronic glitz with some far less glamorous screams. But it does represent, for the project, something like the dipping of toes: it’s on the EP’s third track, ‘Three’, that the fractured mould shatters, beckoning – at last – Doves’ characteristic drawl.
In truth, there’s some pretence there. A far simpler explanation would be that 333
is two instrumental tracks; two sample-laden “emo-trap” concoctions; and a closer that somehow marries Doves’ delicate-songwriting with his penchant for bombastic production. There is no point to 333
, however. The opener – or, rather, Future’s words on that opener – might hint at something more foundational, but Doves himself doesn’t seem to think so. Little context is provided for the release. Via Twitter, the artist dismissed the project as a “two track [EP]” with “three bonus tracks” – and “shit” ones at that. In spite of all the self-effacement, however, the project – and, to a more significant extent, the better part of Doves’ career – reads like a poem scrawled in blood.
An even greater pretence! I’ll concede. But where 333
fails is in its illusion that it at all manages to separate art from artist. Sure, there comes a point in the process of creation wherein the art adopts a life of its own. For all its attempts at distortion, however – its bombast, its silence, its holding off – 333
is as potent a reflection of the artist as one could hope. An artist whose presence stains each of the project’s twists and turns – its success, its failures, and, most important of all, its moments of self-sabotage and -effacement.