Dalis Car: The Waking Hour UK CD 
- Dalis Car
- His Box
- Cornwall Stone
- Create And Melt
- The Judgement Is The Mirror
I remember hearing about the Dali’s Car project in the music press after the ruptures of Bauhaus and Japan, respectively. By that time, I’d already heard Mick Karn’s troubling single “Sensitive” and I marveled at how this supremely talented musician could be so creatively off track. I’d hoped for something better with Dali’s Car, but the truth of the matter was that I did not run out and immediately buy it on import LP. It remained until the album belatedly got a release on CD four years later until buying a copy became a priority. Mea Culpa!
By that time, I already had the second Karn solo album, “Dreams Of Reason Produce Monsters,” which I had immediately bought on its release two years prior to considerable awe and astonishment. Further, I had also bought the debut Peter Murphy album “Should The World Fail To Fall Apart” at roughly the same time as the second Karn solo and I marveled at the huge artistic leap that it figured for the former Bauhaus singer who, it must be said, [whispered, perhaps] smoked his old comrades roundly, as undeniably great as the Tones On Tail material was. Perhaps I would not have been so floored by the respective triumphs of Karn and Murphy solo in 1986 had I heard the Dali’s Car album on its original 1984 release.
Because the artistic groundwork for each of those seeming quantum leaps was fully contained within the grooves of this platter. All of the hallmarks that make those two later album stand out to my ears; their lithe combinations of Eastern drone and Western classicism, the dry, arid, yet compulsive rhythms are all here to point the way forward. When the eponymous title track began, it was clear that Karn had little need of the full compliment of JAPAN to realize his full ambitions. He played all instruments here save for “rhythm construction.” True, Steve Jansen was a phenomenal drummer, who pushed far into the outer reaches of art rock and was a master at using off-meter rhythms to advance the music dramatically, but I must give credit for the metronomic beatbox programming of Paul Vincent Lawford for providing the unsung glue that held this album together.
“Dali’s Car” immediately builds considerable tension by juxtaposing the stiff, mechanical [and in one’s face] rhythms of Lawford with the languid, serpentine probings of Karn’s fretless bass. It’s not a million miles away from the vibe of “Tin Drum” but the vocals of Murphy convey none of the world-weary pain that Sylvian brought to the mic as the singer of JAPAN. Murphy’s dour pronouncements inhabit a different; less personal world.
This work presages his equally accomplished next album to the point that he also employed Lawford in a similar role on that opus. Strangely enough, this album and the first Murphy solo album are Lawford’s sole credits that I can find in Discogs.com. Lawford is not only about thunderous beatbox. His tablas invest “Create And Melt” with the circular logic that the title implies to a perfect realization. Probably my favorite track here was “Cornwall Stone,” which features more of the solemn formalism that typified the vibe of “Dreams Of Reasons Produce Monsters.” Arid synths and deep bell tones work exceptionally well with the methodical pacing of the track to create a ponderous foreboding, as if the accompaniment of to the slumber of some terrible giant.
It is somewhat slim as an album with just seven tracks, and a running time of about 35 minutes. That there was a single pulled from this was astonishing; particularly since “The Judgement Is the Mirror” was not a track that had much resonance with me. The cocaine imagery of the lyrics marks it as somewhat out of place here, though it’s musically a solid enough album track. Still, it’s clear that Karn was working out some ideas that would come to full maturity with his next album, as did Peter Murphy. This makes the Dali’s Car project a fruitful workshop for the concepts that would fully mature two years hence as well as a fairly compelling piece of work in its own right. I really need to get the posthumous “InGladAloneness” EP that was released posthumously after Karn’s death in 2011.
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