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June 4th, 2003 JENNA GILROY | Music Stories
 

Hello, Dahlia!

The beloved electronic trio's new album is--shall we say--lovable.

     
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IMAGE: stephen voss
Vase(s), the new album by Dahlia, is not music you spend the night with but never call again. It's the kind you make breakfast for in the morning. Two years after its bigger-than-trip-hop-bolder-than-breakbeat debut, Emotion Cycles, the trio known for cathartic Tuesday-night shows at Ohm is letting loose perfect hottie-in-your-room music.

Music, not to put too fine a point on it, to get laid by.

The regulars who crowd Ohm's dance floor every Tuesday night recognize the visceral qualities of Dahlia's beguiling sound, built on Jennifer Folker's sensual vocals, the electronic mastery of musical everything-man Keith Schreiner and Jay Bozich's audio/visual manipulations. Dahlia cuts straight through the packaging, right to your core; some call Dahlia's show "therapy," hitting the club week after week for an emotional purge 10 times cheaper than psychiatry and infinitely more fun.

"It's three distinctly different personalities," Schreiner says. "I do what I do. Jennifer does what she does. Then Jay comes in and makes it all work together."

Folker and Schreiner both describe Bozich, with affection, as "totally indifferent." His work with the group is so low-profile, Dahlia's usually referred to as a duo. Basically, he takes sounds created by the other two and melds it all together, creating the effects and delays that are Dahlia's hallmarks. During a conversation with the band at Shanghai Tunnel, Bozich exhibits the Zen-like patience such a job must require, sitting quietly as Folker and Schreiner banter, rarely joining in, always listening, sometimes rolling his eyes.

The threesome communicates so naturally that in the project's early days, they didn't rehearse at all. Four years later, their improvisations are "impeccably embedded" in their songs' structure, though Dahlia hasn't abandoned freestyling ways. They're adamant: The same song will never be heard the same way twice.

"I'll just throw beats at Jennifer, like, 'Here comes the song,'" Schreiner says. "The crowd will have no idea, and it'll sound pretty tight, but we'll have no idea what's going on."

"We're best when we have no idea what we're doing," Schreiner says.

"A lot of these songs were built around moments, weeks and weeks of moments in my life or just in the world," Folker says. "It's dark. It definitely reflects what the last couple years have been like. For a lot of people I know, and for me, a lot of change has happened. I was writing more exciting music this year. And in the last couple years, Keith's songwriting has grown in leaps and bounds. You can hear that on all the new stuff."

Dahlia's evolved sound jumps from breakbeat to trance to trip-hop to ambient. They slide from swanky beats and brash vocals to easy bumps with sweet, fleeting trills. They saddle stout, bouncy tracks such as "Movin' On" and "Ya Gots Ta Live" alongside harsher cuts like "Last Dance," then lighten the mood with the charming, surreal "Marcella Behind Liquid Blue Eyes." It's skillfully layered and lush as all hell.

Breakfast? Let's make that dinner, drinks, a playful cab ride home, satin sheets, scented candles and anything else you can think of.


Dahlia
Ohm, 31 NW 1st Ave., 223-9919. 9 pm Tuesdays. Cover. 21+.
 
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