Thomas Dolby / The Sole Inhabitant


The Sole Inhabitant

Following his involvement in Headspace, Dolby returned to his musical career in 2006. He performed his first solo public show in 15 years at the Red Devil Lounge in San Francisco, California on January 21, 2006, surprising the crowd who were there to see local band Notorious. He then launched an American tour, the Sole Inhabitant Tour, on April 12, comprising a string of small dates in California, a mall opening in Boulder, Colorado, and gigs across America before receptive crowds.

The US leg of the “Sole Inhabitant Tour 2006” was captured on a “live” CD and DVD. The CD represents a recording of two gigs played by Dolby at Martyrs in Chicago, while the DVD was filmed at the Berklee Performance Center at Berklee College of Music. The DVD also includes a 30-minute interview, and a lecture by Dolby at the Berklee College Of Music. Both the CD and DVD were released in November 2006, and are distributed through CD Baby and iTunes. Dolby autographed and numbered the first 1,000 copies of the CD and DVD.

A show at the 800 capacity Scala club in London was booked for July 3, 2006 as a warm-up for Dolby’s Hyde Park set opening for Depeche Mode. The show sold out in a matter of days and prompted Dolby to reprioritise the UK, resulting in him moving with his family from California back to England, and a nine-date Sole Inhabitant tour of the UK in October 2007, coinciding with the release of a lavish box set of the Sole Inhabitant CD and DVD by UK independent label Invisible Hands Music.

Thomas toured throughout the months of November and December 2006 with electronic musician BT. This tour included a version of “Airwaves” that BT added his own technique to, which was the opening song on the UK leg of the Sole Inhabitant tour (sans BT).

Thomas Dolby’s March 15, 2007 performance at the SxSW festival[13] was released as the live EP “Thomas Dolby & The Jazz Mafia Horns, Live at SxSW” (with musicians from San Francisco’s Jazz Mafia collective, through iTunes and on CD Baby.

The 2007 UK Sole Inhabitant tour included three new songs previously played on the US tour, one called “Your Karma Hit My Dogma” another called “Jealous Thing” and a cover version of The Special AKA’s “What I Like Most About You Is Your Girlfriend”. “Your Karma Hit My Dogma” was inspired by Kevin Federline‘s unauthorised use of a sample from Mobb Deep‘s Got It Twisted which in turn had used an authorised sample of She Blinded Me with Science. The tag-line from that story became the title of the song. The wording was lifted by Thomas from a bumper sticker on a car that he saw whilst living in the San Francisco Bay area. In a move close to performance art, Dolby tried to post a ‘cease and desist’ legal letter on Kevin Federline’s MySpace page when other attempts to contact him proved fruitless.[14][15] The song is on the Live at SxSW EP.

The second new song, “Jealous Thing” was performed at least at The Graduate in Cambridge and London’s Islington Academy on the UK tour in Summer 2007 and features a Bossa-Nova type rhythm.`

The Analysis:

Leipzig Is Calling—-Most of the songs on this release have been played over and over again…the remarkable thing about this particular release is not only the live setting but also the new and improved technology that allowed Dolby to really bring his sound to a mass of people who were very receptive. This is much more updated Kraftwerk and their dream finally coming true than a short show by a ‘one-hit’ wonder from the 80’s…Dolby sounds comfortable, satisfied and a bit at peace. This is a journey…the sounds of the songs are far advanced and the dream is finally realized for this tech-genius. This is fantastic!!!

One Of Our Submarines—-One of my very favorite tracks from Dolby, this is 1000 times better than the original could have ever dreamt of being. Finally Dolby has the live technology to bring his Technicolor dreams to life and it works here like a motion picture. The track is more layered, delivered with more effects and done so in a studio fashion. This is fabulous…..allowing me to realize that despite the 80’s backlash. there were genius’ creeping beneath the underbelly of it all….this is monumental for me!!!

I Live In A Suitcase—-This is so incredibly electronic and full of a deep sounding life…Dolby manages to make his synth sound like a human being, you can almost feel emotion coming from the keys that he pushes. This amazing…if only for the full and complete sound that the music provides…when Dolby opens his mouth and narrates the sound, the song becomes a huge journey…this is stellar…this man needs to be making music….NOW!!!

Flying North—-Full of classic blips and bleeps that are even more possible in the 00’s, Dolby must be like a kid in a candy store these days…this is his dream come to life…and it is full and large with 3-D color images. This is remarkable…stellar, moving and unforgettable. I really need to catch Dolby live…..I am in LOVE!!!

The Flat Earth—-Another of those classic Dolby songs that is now fully realized thanks to advanced technology, Thomas takes full advantage of the sounds and really draws out the introduction. This seems so much more alive now than it did back when it was released…although the track never looses the basic lines that it was designed with, the sound is much more full and alive…reminding us how much more advanced this brain was than the time allowed. The short synth bursts bring a happiness to my being that is rare these days…this is a dream fufilled…giving me even more hope for the future…despite the rather morose vocal from Tom…this is still alive and full of a slight hope!!!

Budapest By Blimp—-The intro to this song is so morose and orchestrated….the sunth line is not far behind though…never letting you forget who you are listening to. when Dolby enters with his vocal, you are comfortable and well at ease. the timbre of the song is layered and intense…lending my mood a much-needed boost…Dolby can write a sad song like the best of them. The piano chord that runs through the back drop of the song allows you to have a bit of hope…there is an almost slight funky feel to the song…never allowing you to dive to deep into darkness…that is the magic of the artist…allowing you to think and feel but not be destroyed…remarkable!!!

Windpower—-This is a huge song….ignored by most everyone but still to this day remaining one of my favorite tracks from the Dolby catalog…I never get tired of it…in this setting, with new and improved technology. It is even better than the first time I ever heard it. I literally adore this song…it seems, to me, perfect in just about everyway…from the electronics to the vocal, I would never ask for more from this man or any other…this is historic. timely and still a masterpiece!!!

Europa And The Pirate Twins—-Another song that was largely ignored by most people, this is another of those Dolby songs that long lives in my memory…you cannot deny the genius behind the entire thing. It is no wonder that Dolby became disenfranchised with the industry…not being able to produce the sounds that he knew were there  but without the technology ro make them. this is a dream realized…that is what this WHOLE record is all about!!! This is just fantastic!!!!

Hyperactive—-Who can ever forget this great video? Here, this song is truly realized…..Dolby is finally allowed to make the sounds that he knew he wanted to make in 1984….this is what DOLBY always WANTED….listening to it now, I just want the whole entire world to hear it…this is far better than any recorded version you could ever find…this is technology realized and a man who is finally at peace…this is as it was meant to be!!!

She Blinded Me With Science—-This is far better than any remix or updated version of this classic 80’s song that you can find ANYWHERE….you could not ever ask for a better rendition of this song EVER!!!! This is brillaint…the effects that Dolby brings to the forefront of this song are magnificent….you are in heaven if you are  true 80’s fan…..there is NOTHING better than this particular version of this classic track!!!! Trust me!!!!

Airhead—-Rounding out this show with a great track, Dolby again reaches for the ceiling as he tries to bring his dream to a live stage…the result is nothing less than stellar. the effects that are produced as he pushes buttons and presses keys are magnificent…ten years prior to this would have been impossible…but this man is a genius and he lives on the edge…producing sounds that were far beyond his time but sound rather commonplace in the sound scape of listening today…just remember…this was being attempted between 1982-1986……..we have come a long way and the dream is finally realized!

***** out of 5 [!!!!!]

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