• The Vibe

Brighton psych punks Dog of Man release lockdown folk EP

The Brighton band have been described as “a horror trip on a synthetic drug” and “dream headliners for an end-of-the-world party”. In a stark change of style, the new EP strips away the noise to deliver a collection of upbeat acoustic songs with touches of bluegrass and Balkan folk.

What happened? Dog of Man’s debut album, which offered a weird blend of sinister psychedelic punk, came out last summer following a tour around Europe. While they were away the band increasingly found themselves resorting to acoustic instruments for after-show encores, street busking and rehearsals in the wilderness. The cover of the new EP is based on a shot taken during one such occasion, when the band gave an impromptu performance by a canal in Germany (the portals in the sky were only visible in retrospect). Back in Brighton, Dog of Man made a live recording with this line-up – accordion, bass, guitar and banjo – which was done and dusted in a couple of takes and promptly forgotten about.

A year later, plans to record the second album were abandoned and another tour was cancelled as the band found themselves in lockdown in the midst of a global pandemic. Suddenly those shows in Europe seemed like a world away, until someone remembered these recordings...

Take The Edge Off was never really meant to be released, but the incredible work of producer Joe Bailey convinced the band it was worth putting out. Two of the tracks are versions of songs intended for the band’s next album, while the other two have appeared on previous releases. Chaos Reigns, for instance, was included in an unrecognisable form on the debut album Dogmatic Manual with a different time signature and tempo.

Singer and accordionist, Mike Milner, explains the idea behind the song: “Lyrically, Chaos Reigns was written at a time when I was particularly butthurt, and to come to terms with that I decided in a rather nihilistic way that all events transpire without any real motive or direction. It was at once damning and liberating. This was summed up best by the fox in Lars von Trier's 'Antichrist', so I borrowed the title from that. The grinding noise of my electric accordion masked the fact I’d learned to play accordion from the band Beirut. The ‘folkified’ version admits its origins somewhat, however the intent remains the same: sometimes there are no coincidences nor purpose – just chaos.”

The video for the acoustic version of Chaos Reigns was made remotely with each band member shooting their segment in isolation, and was edited by Mike. The result is an aptly random montage of housebound musicians on the verge of losing it. Without gigs, what’s left?