Dome #1 – A little retro punk pleasure
Punk brought us many diverse pleasures, the best of which remain little known and still cushioned in a kind of semi-permanent underground where the authentic gather (one presumes) to laugh at the record collections of the rest of us. In order to gather a little cred with these folk (whoever “they” are – and we all know “they” don’t exist. Let’s call them The Big Other of music) its good to dive into that underground and take a listen to some of the lesser known brilliance that has formed and shaped the great music we love today, as well as the entire listening experience.
One of these instant-ticket-to-cool bands is Dome.
Gilbert and Lewis were members of Wire, and formed Dome during Wire’s 1980–1984 hiatus. Over its first three albums, Wire’s music had progressed from rapid-fire punk rock to moody, ambitious post-punk. Dome continued the experimentation, often abandoning traditional song structures in favor of found sounds, melodic fragments, and what critics Steven Grand and David Sheridan described as “lurching mechanical noises infrequently keeping a vague beat”. Between 1980 and 1981 Dome recorded three LPs; Dome One, Dome 2, and Dome 3, on its own Dome Records label.
Dome’s “3R4” LP was released in 1980 (as by Gilbert & Lewis), followed by its Kluba Cupol EP (as Cupol), and “Ends With The Sea” 7″ (also as Gibert & Lewis), on the 4AD Records label. In 1982 it released MZUI (Waterloo Gallery), an LP of recordings made at the Waterloo Gallery with Russell Mills.
Between 1980 and 1983, Dome released Dome 1, Dome 2, Dome 3, and Will You Speak This Word: Dome 4. When Wire reformed in ‘84, it was Dome’s turn to go on hiatus. Their silence was finally broken in 1998, with the release of Dome 5 -Yclept. The five albums that constitute the Dome legacy may not have set the charts on fire, but they all contain some amazing material.
One big fan is Peter Rehberg, founder of the Editions Mego label. In the five short years of the label’s existence, EM have released an impressive array of new and re-released material – but nothing quite like the Dome 1-4+5 box set. EM are known for issuing what is loosely defined as “electronic” music, but showing a remarkable eye towards symmetry, the Dome set is an old-school LP box. While there is a downloadable version available for those addicted to such nonsense – the big, beautiful vinyl package is the one that counts.
“Cancel Your Order” is the opening track of Dome 1 (1980), and it does evoke some of the edginess of early Wire. They very quickly veer off from the familiar with “Cruel When Complete” though. This, and much of the rest of the album, is spookily meditative and suggests some strange things afoot in the studio. And the studio itself functions as the third member of Dome. Both Gilbert and Lewis have mentioned how much time they spent indoors recording. In fact, they seem to have lived there for the better part of a year. Their first three albums were all recorded during a 12-month period, leading one to wonder if they whether they ever ventured outside at all.
Editions Mego have released the entire Dome collection through a stunning box set (that unfortunately I don’t own) that is still available should any of us lucky folk decide – on the delightful spur-of-the-moment purchase that funds the entire art world, to add this brilliance to our own collection. (It’s filled with gorgeous art work also.)
Consider yourself granted a temporary entry pass into the underground of cool.