Dr. Didg

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Dr. Didg


Non-traditional Didjeridu

Graham Wigginsdidjeridus, keyboards, breath controlled synth, melodica, percussion, bathwater
Ian Campbelldrums, percussion
Mark Revellguitars, analog synth
Dave Motionguitar
Danny Isletguitar
Tim Harriesbass
Jeff Soffebass

CD, Playing time 62:28 minutes

Track List:

  1. Son of Tut - 3:40
  2. Later - 5:41
  3. Serotonality - 4:45
  4. Retro Rockets - 3:50
  5. Bob's Cloud - 4:57
  6. Bouncy - 4:50
  7. Made Ya Mine - 3:58
  8. My Little Pony - 3:24
  9. Brand New Shoes - 5:16
  10. Whirligig - 6:56
  11. Serotonality (reduce speed now extended mix) - 7:43
  12. Made Ya Mine (ricotta and spinach mix) - 7:28

Publisher No.:
(1998) Rykodisc - HNCD 21406

What a pleasant surprise when I went into Borders Music, and saw this album! I have both Baka and Dance the Devil Away from Outback, and Out of the Woods by Dr Didg, so I am already familiar with Graham Wiggins, but true to form, this CD takes over where the previous ones left off, and embellishes the concept that was previously established.

There are 12 tracks on Serotonality, 2 of which are remixes. The first 3 cuts are live performances, so Nhadine should feel right at home! The biggest difference between this album and Out of the Woods is the addition of "horns" which are provided from what appears to be a combination of analog and breath controlled synth.

Anyone who knows Wiggins' style also knows that much of his sound comes from his use of "live sampling" which is playing along with a loop of previously played phrase. In this recording, there's a lot of that ... multiple tracks of the same instruments (guitar, didg, synth, and even percussion). Layers and layers of sound.

1. The CD starts with Son of Tut, which is a derivative of King Tut from Out of the Woods. (He did this with "What Can I Say" on Dance the Devil Away and "Say what you Like" on Out of the Woods) It uses the drums, bass and didg to setup a space for the guitar to float about in, and is soon joined by keys.

2. "Later" is a moody little piece, which you notice has the appearance of a horn section ...

3. The title cut is next, "Serotonality" which starts out sounding like a dance cut you might expect to hear in a Coffee house in Amsterdam. Live samples of didg and guitar run rampant.

4. "Retro Rockets" ... Big old Hammond B3 Organ and horn section, big old distorted guitar ... Didgeridoo meets George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars? Not really, but it sure is FUNKY!

5. "Bob's Cloud" kinda reminds me of a cut from James Gang "Rides Again" that was a take off of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" ... but not really! The melodica take the lead over the top of a steady didg and bass. The lead guitar and melodica floats thru with an echoplex.

6. "Bouncy" has a really neat didg drum thing happening ... making percussive noises thru the didg into the live sampler, building layer after layer until the REAL drums and didg come in. Then comes the horn section .. I mean synth. Guitar sets the mood with a repetitive riff that gets repeated from time to time, adding almost a middle eastern flavor.

7. "Made Ya Mine" starts out with that didg drum sampler effect ... contrapuntal jabs from the guitar and keys set up an interesting little piece.

8. A tinny synth drum kit introduces the synth horns to the loopy didg and bass on "My Little Pony." The horns make way for the distorted guitar ... followed by the restatement of the horn chorus. It kinda sounds like it should be the theme song for a Pee Wee Herman movie ... or at least a circus!

9. "Brand New Shoes" starts out with that didg drum sampler effect ... kick and cymbals verbalized thru the didg ... then piano and bass join in. Once again, got that big funk thang happenin' but the guitar jumps in and mellows it out. Then, James Brown's horn section drops by and introduces a pretty cool little didg bridge which is rejoined by the guitar, and then the horns.

10. "Whirligig" - big old bass, didg and synth in a Doors-esque little "Riders on the Storm" jazzy kinda number. It makes you anticipate the vocals, which never show up because Jim Morrison *IS* dead! He would have fit right in ... but the instruments make good use of the space left for them to operate in!

11. "Serotonality (Reduce Speed Now Extended Mix)" -- much more electronic "dance mix" version, complete with megaphone vocals ...

12. "Made Ya Mine (Ricotta and Spinach Mix)" -- This one starts out with the synth in a really spacey fashion, and is soon joined in by an electronic "dance mix" drummer. More bass and keys than didg, but there are some little bits that show up.

Serotonality is nowhere near as ethereal as Trance Mission or Stephen Kent's other projects. Those of you who have listened to Outback or Dr Didg already know that Wiggins' stuff is not exactly "World Music" or "New Age" but this CD takes the group closer to those influences.

About the only thing I felt was missing was the didgeridoo! It's there, I know it is, layered underneath, and it really does drive some of these pieces, but I felt cheated with the didg being relegated to mostly background repetitive samples and no solos. I suppose that's the price we pay for the didgeridoo being "integrated" into our western musical society.

I enjoyed the appearance of the horns on this CD, however I must admit that at first it was a little disconcerting. I can't help but wonder how much better it would sound live, with a REAL horn section instead of the synth horn section, but the synthesis is good, and doesn't detract from this recording.

All in all a very enjoyable CD.

Copyright 1998 by John Madill - All Rights Reserved
Reviewer: John Madill

Dr. Didg, a UK based trio led by Dr. Graham Wiggins (who holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Oxford), are so called after a nickname Graham gained while testing out the didgeridoo in the physics lab. Graham has studied the instrument with native peoples, has written extensively on the physics of its sound, and helped first bring the didgeridoo to the outside world as co-founder, along with Martin Cradick, of the Hannibal group Outback. Since then, the didgeridoo has grown in both popularity and presence; its unique droning tones can be heard emitting from film and TV screens and dance floors across the globe. The follow-up to 1994's OUT OF THE WOODS [HNCD 1384], which broke onto the CMJ New Music and Billboard World Music charts, SEROTONALITY explodes the musical context of the didgeridoo into realms of retro-funk, psychedelia, trance, and rave culture.

In 1982, when Graham Wiggins was a physics student at Boston University, a support act at a small world music concert caught his attention. A man was demonstrating the basics of didgeridoo technique, using a crude assembly of cardboard tubes. The next day, Graham took a tube from a roll of Christmas wrapping paper and started blowing. A couple of hours later he had the circular breathing technique licked, and he was hooked. In order to learn more, Graham visited the library to listen to the very few recordings which were then available of traditional Aboriginal music from Australia. Over the next two years he gradually worked out the basic techniques of the instrument and in his final year at B.U., completed a research project examining the acoustics of the didgeridoo.

After the demise of Outback, Ian Campbell and Graham incorporated drums and a "live sampling" technique that Graham was developing and recorded it onto a demo tape. In the summer of 1993, they performed a now legendary all-night jam session on battery power in the middle of a field at Glastonbury. After running out of material, they appeased the clamoring audience by improvising and found that the crowd liked it even more. This night decided the future direction of the band and Dr. Didg was born...

With guitarist Mark Revell contributing guitar, the group continued to record and tour the UK. In February 1993, Graham was invited by drummer Mickey Hart to join the Grateful Dead at their Mardi Gras show at the Oakland Coliseum. (Graham later recorded with Mickey, samples of which were later included on Mickey Hart's Rykodisc album, (MICKEY HART'S MYSTERY BOX). In 1994, Dr. Didg signed to Hannibal and in April of 1995, released its first album, OUT OF WOODS (HNCD 1384). Dr. Didg earned fans through constant gigging in the UK on the European dance club and festival scene where the band's unique live sound has become a welcome diversion. In fact, twenty such gigs were recorded to multitrack and served as the backbone for some of the tracks on SEROTONALITY. The first track 'Son of Tut' is a live track, whereas others on the album pull in samples and ideas from the live sessions. Graham makes extensive use of 'live sampling,' whereby he performs a repeating riff on the didg and then snatches a sample of it, creating a loop. The resulting layers of rhythm are rooted in the flowing, breath-based pulse of the instrument and the rhythmic phrasing of Aboriginal masters; from this Dr. Didg expands the sound to incorporate influences from western musical genres with additional percussion, keyboard and guitar. Original guitarist Mark Revell provides guitar on most of the album. Dr. Didg is currently comprised of guitarist Dave Motion, Graham Wiggins and drummer Ian Campbell.
Reviewer: Rykodisc

The sharp group known as Dr. Didg, lead by physicist / didgeridoo player / multi-instrumentalist Graham Wiggins, return for their second didge fest. Serotonality is a hopping blend of live and sampled didge, organic dance grooves, funk-laden riffs, and snappy horns. While Wiggins may be bandleader, his playing doesn't dominate -- he lets drummer Ian Campbell, guitarist/keys player Mark Revell, bassist Tim Harries, and guests lend their own strong playing to the proceedings. These ten tunes are frequently layered by Wiggins sampling his didge playing live, then playing with and adding to the initial part or parts, while his bandmates chime in with various musical flavorings. The best tunes are the psychedelia and reggae-tinged "Bob's Cloud" and the Arabic-flavored "Bouncy". "Whirligig," the official last track on the album (there are two unnecessary drum 'n' bass remixes tacked on at the end) is a slow-moving, jazzy mood-jam which shows that the group can be just as effective chilling out as they can be rocking out. While I prefer Wiggins' music with now-defunct world fusion quartet Outback, he admirably continues to expand the musical realms of the didgeridoo, an ancient Aboriginal instrument that's also one of the hippest musical tools around.
Reviewer: Brian Reesman

Copyright 1997 by John Morfit - All Rights Reserved