Minneapolitan music men Martin Dosh and Jon Davis unite as Dosh & Ghostband. Together, they wreck speakers and minds with techno-addled, IDM-damaged, bass ’n’ bliss groove music. They’ve accomplished all kinds of admirable feats apart, it’s true. Together, however, the pair have discovered a brotherhood that not only speaks to their shared history in a jazz-rich Twin Cities scene, but which holds these two in a mind-meld of melody and rhythm.
Their music is electronic, yes, but composed and recorded live in a Minnesota basement — Martin’s home studio, from which he’s churned out an impressive oeuvre of loop-driven instrumentals under his last name over the years. While the "Dosh" work sets those songs apart from his membership in bands like Fog, the Cloak Ox, and Andrew Bird’s crew, his solo stuff is never made in a vacuum. In fact, Jon’s bass is the first sound heard on the first Dosh album, sampled from a 4-track tape of the two jamming in the late '90s. They’ve been playing together for years, just usually in live ensembles with Martin on drums and Jon completing the rhythm section or on clarinet.
In hindsight, this project seems fated. Like Martin, Jon also became a one-man band in his free time, a fact reflected literally by the moniker he uses for his experimental, dubwise beatwork: Ghostband. Each man was a precocious musician in his youth who took on multiple instruments and studied sound extensively via lessons, college, and the live arena. They share a fascinating canon too when it comes to sacred LPs: Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers, Squarepusher’s Big Loada, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, and — a recent but vital entry — Caribou’s Swim. Hearing that last one inspired Dosh to attempt a dance record.
That impetus became the Def Kith EP and an in-progress album. In combining forces, the pair discovered a dynamic that owes as much to their similarities as their differences. As Jon puts it, Martin is song- and album-oriented, while he’s more track- and vibe-focused. And as Martin puts it, Jon is "the guy who reads the manuals," while he’s "the idiot-savant who pulls shit together from nothing." Ask them if they knew what to expect and the answers are equally telling.
Jon: "It seemed obvious that our sweet spot would be somewhere deep in the pocket, but on the experimental edge — a point of synthesis between groove and something less obvious."
Martin: "With due respect, absolutely not. I’d heard the recent Ghostband stuff and just imagined it with my 'Dosh-y' melodies on top. It pretty much came out way better than I thought it would."
Indeed, the end result is more than the sum of these formidable parts. It’s Dosh & Ghostband.