Martin Dosh’s third album, The Lost Take, is irritating if you don’t pay attention. Each track begins midstream and suddenly takes off, dizzying percussion and string loops leading the charge, melody unconsidered, style sloshing substance, form over fever. It swooshes and shuffles and crashes from all sides for a while until something called “Mpls Rock and Roll,” at which point Dosh, who just assumes we get it by now, backs up and starts from the beginning, building and nurturing a hugely small mini-epic art-piece that transcends most of the stuff you’ll hear this year.
Anything before or after this moment represents a crushing letdown. Dosh is a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who excels at farting around and squirming; right now he’s probably got three or four of these albums on his hard drive or waiting to be pieced together from piles of tape reels sitting on shelves. Other bedroom narcissists can wiggle off the hook. Daedelus, for example, gets away with this kind of thing not only because he’s better at it, but because he doesn’t try to steal your soul and feed it back to you in handfuls. Dosh stumbles upon the impossibly beautiful, gets it, then goes back home to play video games. It’s a lot like Good Will Hunting.
The first half of The Lost Take is a slightly nauseating concoction of tuneless dart-throwing; the second half fares better, but not much, and “Mpls,” which is smack in the middle, couldn’t be more out of place, in a way that’s both good and bad. There Dosh is, straddling the ordinary and the truly divine, able to do both (the ordinary more than the divine, in this case) and yet firmly committed to neither. Three of the album’s four closing tracks — “Pink Floyd Cowboy Song,” “O Mexico” and “Bottom of a Well” — each go to great lengths to recapture the magical engagement displayed minutes (but which feel much longer) earlier. It works, and that’s what’s so frustrating.