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Doors of Pefection

ONE DOVE have been hailed as the future of epic, melodic dance music, blending classic pop melancholia with club beats to produce a sound that sends listeners into ecstatic trances. DAVID BENNUN ventures north of the border to find out if the band really have wings. Doorstepping: STEPHEN SWEET


ONE DOVE NUMBER three. let us call them Ian, Dot and Jim, for those are their names. To meet them, you must travel to Glasgow, a former European City of Culture. The culture industry having taken its ever-rising brow elsewhere, Glasgow is once again a rather bland-looking city distinguished, on the surface, by absolutely nothing. You can't even find a decent picturesque wasteland for a photo shoot. Urban regeneration has put paid to that.
(Fittingly, One Dove's career took Right not on the dour banks of the Clyde, but on a cruise ship off Rimini, where they played their first single, "Fallen", to a gobsmacked Andrew Weatherall. He, no doubt uttering a cry of "Bring out the standard Rich And Famous contract, Miss Dubmeister," promptly signed them to Boy's Own.)
The treasures of Glasgow are hidden. Venture down an overgrown, thistle-blown dirt track behind a caged-in offy, beyond the walls topped with unphotogenic razor wire, and you'll find One Dove's rehearsal studio. And, if you're press and they're expecting you, you'll also find One Dove: Dorothy Allison, in person as hesitant and shy as her recorded vocals are confident and overwhelming; David James McKinven, the garrulous Pirate King, lacking only an eye-patch and cutlass 'twixt the teeth; and Ian Carmichael, the reputedly quiet one (there always has to be a quiet one), who proves to be remarkably talkative.
For a quiet one.


SOME folk have been catapulted into jeans-creaming raptures by One Dove's cloud-borne dub-pap, and rightly so. Yet others have hummed and hawed and dismissed itas ''The Carpenters with a backbeat." As if this concept weren't the apogee of Western civilisation. One Dove offer a rich, spectacularly melodic, unashamedly epic take on the great pop tradition which runs from phil Spector and the Sixties girl groups through Bacharach and Dovid, The (aforementioned) Carpenters, Abba and the Cocteau Twins (no kidding), seamlessly infiltrated by the Nineties club fascination with ambience and dub. At times, they bring their music within one step of chocolate box, two steps of kitsch. Their genius lies in never taking those final steps. One Dove quiver, gorgeausly, on the edge of disaster.
"If we can make people cry," reflects Jim, "then we're doing something right. One night after we played, this mad wee girl came up to us and said, 'You people took me on a journey!'" His colleagues crack up. "Remember her? Mad Karen. That seems to be the general attitude. People seem to actually get lost in it, lost in music. Which is fine." The word "transcendence" comes to mind.
"I think," Ian admits, "that it's more like wallowing. We all wallow in our emotions, and we come up with the music."


"I DEFINITELY believe in fate," announces Dot, "and I definitely believe there's somebody looking after me. I've got a twin brother, and we were both three, and my mum was holding onto us outside a grocer's shop. She let go of my hand for a second to adjust the price on some vegetables. I ran across the rood, tripped, rolled under a lorry, and missed the wheels."
Dot hails from Edinburgh - Jim and Ian describe her voice as "softer" than their own Glasgow accents. They also call it "mid-Atlantic", when I claim she sounds American on "Fallen". No matter. Dorothy comes into her own when she sings, and it's no hyperbole to claim she sings like an angel- albeit an angel lost in an ecstasy whose nature is more sexual than spiritual. But we'll get to that.
"There's a lot of religious connotations to what we do," reckons Ian, "but that's not intentional. Dot and I have never sat down and said, 'let's put a religious flavour into these lyrics'."
"I'd basically say I was agnostic," says Dot, basically. "I'd go for gnosis," plumps Jim. "Oh, yes, gnosis," cogitates Dot. "Act upon the knowledge of the hidden element, or whatever."
Or whatever.


ONE Dove aspire to purity the way some bands aspire to debauchery.
"I wouldn't feel comfortable if that wasn't an angle on it," Dot tells me.
"Even musically," reckons Ian, "we strive for a certain purity. It' s not contrived, it's pure. It's something everybody wants at some stage in their lives, but nobody can ever have. That's definitely what White love' is about, first and foremost. Purity."
'White love" is a track full of silver-winged seraphim and cotton-wool cumulus if ever I heard one. This is the song on which Dot breathes, "Yes. . . Yes. . . Yes. . . Yesss!", yet somehow manages to invite comparison with a climaxing archangel rather than a dubbing session for a blue movie.
"The one area where purity's always mentioned," Jim agrees, "is when people have a near-death experience. And it's that point, that pure white light that they all reach for. Maybe when you're just about to die, that's what you hope for, because you're so scared about what might happen it you don'tgetthatwhite light. That's the only time that anyone's ever experienced purity, so let's hope it's there waiting for us, that white light."
Will 'White love" be playing when it happens?
Jim pictures an afterlife where St Peter beckons you into the strains of 'White love". "Can you imagine it? Canned music in heaven - One Dove. oh nooo! Some peaple are gonna think, 'oh f***, they're playing that shite in heaven! I'd better start murdering people."
"I'd prefer to think of 'White love" as the music that gets piped into God's Jacuzzi.
"I think," assents a relieved Jim, "that that would be more appropriate."


WHAT do you want people to be doing when they hear your music?
"I'd like it to bea soundtrack to them enjoying themselves," is Jim's opinion. ''To be a soundtrack to that great summer, or that wonderful Christmas off skiing in the mountains, the soundtrack to getting off with that girl you've always wanted to get off with, or that guy. For us to be in the background, for us to be the first thing they reach for, to put on."
"They should be making memories when they listen to our music," assents Ian.
Jim's right. Let's not be coy. People are going to take drugs and have sex to this music. At the same time, if they've got any sense.
"Why not?" asks Ian, reasonably. 'We do."
Dot demurs. "I don't to be perfectly honest." (Dot tends to avoid drugs ever since she totally miscalculated the strength of a pure grass spliff, puffed the lot, and became fully convinced that she would have to go to hospital to have her brain removed, at the very least.)
"That's because you're the vocalist," Ian tells her. "Y ou'lli never have the pleasure of the music in that way."
"It's harder for Dot," sympathises Jim, "because we don't make up characters musically. It' s totally personal. Although it may be guarded -I can't speak for Dot."
Dot tries to say something, but Jim ploughs on regardless. "It's not a false character. It's always the true person. Maybe not the whole person. .."
Dot gets her word in edgeways: "There's a quality of my voice which I can develop to get a sensual sound, which I do."
A sort of tasteful heavy breathing which is a world away from, say, an 0898 line; yet one thing they have in common is that they' re both sex in the head, rather than any kind of clumsy reality.
Says Dot, "I don't think it's sex. It' s more like passion, the idea of what passion should sound like. As opposed to the gruntings and wheezings of somebody copulating with someone else."
Jim: "Aye, it's the idea of sex. If you actually sit down and think about the sexual act, no grown adult should ever get involved in it."
"It's dirty," Ian grimaces, "smelly..."
". . . people's sweat and body fluids and that," continues Jim. "But the images in the head that lead up to sex - it's that old 'greater to travel than to arrive' thing. Sometimes it's the most disappointing thing in the world when you come, because it's over. All your hopes and aspirations for that sexual act- it's finished. Time to go to sleep. When you get aroused, that's the greatest point. You're almost scared to get involved in it. That's more what the music's about."
"We're talking foreplay here," says Dot. "The album's going to be called 'Let's Get Sticky'."
But there's nothing very sticky about your music. Ifitwasn'tas good as it is, it could accompany the kind of European movie where everything's shot with Vaseline on the lens.
"As long," comes the inevitable chorus, "as that's the only Vaseline."
Walked right into that one.


DO One Dove make sex music? Drugs music?
"Gin music, I think," says Ian. "Most ot the album's dripping with high gin content."
"And cheap wine," adds Jim, glancing ruefully at a shattered guitar in the corner.
"I was getting annoyed with a song. It sounded good in my head. It sounded brilliant in my head. I thought, 'I'm not doing too well with all this technology, I bet it sounds better on guitar.' It was f***ing shite.I just went mad, started smashing the place up. Cheap wine," he sighs, "does it to you every time."
"With every bottle of Thunderbird, you buy an extra Fender Squier Stratocaster," smiles Dot.
"No, it wasn't Thunderbird, It was Mad Dog 20/20."
It's almost impossible to imagine that One Dove's creations could have such laboured origins. Each one sounds as if it dropped fully formed from the sky. After all, why storm the gates of heaven, when you can simply float over them?

'While Love' is released on Boy's Own via London on July 5, 10 be followed by lour dales (see Gig Guide for deloils). One Dove's album will be released in August 10 massive ace/aim, although not under the title of 'Lef s Get Sticky'

Originally appeared in Melody Maker July 3, 1993 Copyright Copyright, Melody MakerAll Rights Reserved.


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