Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

The Black Dog: Liber Canis

Martin and Richard Dust joined The Black Dog in 2001. The group was founded in 1989 by Ken Downie, Ed Handley and Andy Turner. Only the former is still involved, the other two having left in 1995 to focus on Plaid. After a period of relative inactivity, Downie teamed up with Martin and Richard from Sheffield's Dust Science label, and since then they have released a slew of albums and EPs. A new series of EPs - Liber Kult, Liber Temple and Liber Nox - is out now, accompanied by a full length album called Liber Dogma. Also coming soon is a remix EP entitled Liber Chaos, with contributions from Perc, Blawan, Sandwell District, Sigha, Shifted and Richard H. Kirk. Fresh from a gig at Park Hill, Martin and Richard took the time to talks to us about the project. Did your gig at Park Hill last month go as well as you hoped? Have you played up there before? Park Hill couldn't have gone any better really. Article and Drumroll did an excellent job and it felt good to sell it out, something we could have done twice over. No, we haven't played there before and we doubt it will ever happen again. We really enjoyed it and it's good to see someone trying to re-invent Sheffield and making an effort to help young people get on the property ladder. It's just a shame that all the people with the vision don't have the power to make the changes happen quicker. Is the new album Liber Dogma intended to be enjoyed as a whole? All our albums are meant to be listened to as a whole, but as "artists" we are not that concerned about what others do or say. We don't think you can afford to be. It is puzzling when you see a couple of tracks picked from an album on Juno or Bleep, but there's nothing you can do about it so we tend not to worry about it and let people do what they want. What is your recording process like? Do you perform many of the parts live or is the majority sequenced? We don't have a set process. Everyone brings ideas to the table and we jam them out like a live band or someone goes away and does one part while others do the rest. We always have the live element in our tracks and often leave mistakes in, but we don't feel it matters how they are done just as long as they move us. Sometimes the process can be more interesting than the end result, but we don't have a magic formula. Is much of your material made with hardware? How has your setup developed over time? We'll use anything, hardware or software. The biggest development is not having to take the studio on tour anymore and we are not really that nerdy about kit. When magazines ask us to talk about what we use we always refuse, not because we want to keep anything a secret but because it's just so boring. You don't play out in Sheffield that much. Is that for lack of suitable venues or some other reason? We don't - perhaps once every three years or so. It's kinda strange that we can pack 3,000 people into a room at Fabric in London or The Unit in Japan, but we appreciate Sheffield leaving us alone to do our thing. Sheffield is a double-edged sword. Lots of creative people here moan that they don't feel "included" and perhaps miss the greatest thing about Sheffield - the space and the fact that you have to do it yourself. In general, how do you feel about club culture these days? It seems pretty healthy from where we are sitting. We enjoy a wide spectrum of music so travelling around we've seen lots of changes and most of them have been good. We don't hanker after the "old days" at all if that's what you're asking. Which producers are doing it for you right now? Xhin, Sigha, Shifted, Tommy 24/7, Sandwell District, Blawan, Karenn, Adam X, Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Andre Galluzzi, Cassy, Steffi, Luke Slater, Marcel Fengler, Prosumer, Lucy, Ancient Methods, Scuba, Martyn, Serge. I'm probably opening a can of worms with this question, but what was your take on the riots in August? We think it proves that people in one way or another have had enough, be that unfair treatment or being force-fed capitalist status. It's a shame it didn't have more political focus and perhaps even more sickening is listening to the Tories gloat that the only shops that were safe were bookshops. It really lets you know what they actually think of us proles. The lesson? Invest in our young people and they will amaze you. How do you imagine Sheffield developing and changing over the next ten years? It's going to go one of two ways - become more like Leeds/Manchester or Rotherham. The city centre is a different place since they built Meadowhall and it's so difficult to drive into or give directions to anyone. That said, there will always be creative people here who don't feel the need to run with the pack and stay because it suits them. We featured photography by Shaun Bloodworth last year. Tell us about your sponsorship of his Underground exhibition last year. We just put a little money in to help get things done. It wasn't a big deal really. Shaun's a great artist and deserves the support. He's done some fantastic work for us so we thought it was time to give something back. The exhibition was a great success. It's good to see others getting acknowledged for their work. Who did the artwork for the Liber series? We've been working with Human for a couple of years now. We give them the music and the ideas behind what we are doing and let them do what they want to do. We trust them and the creative process works, so we leave it be. There are occult themes running through a lot of your work. [Martin] I think there are, yeah. I'm really into Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare. I've been to OTO [Ordo Templi Orientis] and IOT [Illuminates of Thanateros] events. I was one of the founding members of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth with Genesis P.Orridge and all those guys. I think if you class yourself as an artist, you've got to be interested in that kind of stuff because it's really open to ideas. Some of Austin Osman Spare's pictures are really, really deep and haunting. There was one of a woman that taught him witchcraft and any second it looked like it was going to flick its fucking eyes up. It really worked on a different dimension. You know sometimes you do something really good without thinking about it? That's what his pictures seem to capture. It's a great skill to turn everything else off and just create, and I guess that's where we're at. We don't sit and think about it - sometimes we don't even talk about it. Can you explain the naming of the series and its inspiration? There's some really obvious references in there. Liber Kult, Liber Temple and 'Greedy Gutter Guru' have all got to do with Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth. The Daily Mail did a really false exposé on Genesis P.Orridge and called him the Greedy Gutter Guru. I saw that and thought it was a really good song title. Liber Nox was a fantastic magazine written by a good friend of mine called Steve Sennitt. Hardly anybody knows why our tracks are named like that, and we don't really have to explain. For those who don't know, I don't think they're really missing out on anything. It's all about our journey because it's not planned - tracks are named when they're finished, EPs are named when they're finished, and then artwork is created. So you don't ever work towards a concept? That sometimes works, but what usually happens is that by the time all three of us have thrown ideas into it, it's changed into something else. So we have loads of project names that are utterly meaningless. Have you got any releases from other artists coming up on Dust Science? Yes, we are about to sign a load of new people in the new year but we don't want to say much until it actually happens and we're in no rush. )

Next article in issue 44

More articles