Just as Colin Newman followed his hard-edged pop ideals once free of Wire, Graham Lewis and Bruce Gilbert also followed their own musical concepts, if one can call it music. Their passion for repetition, sound-loops and making a piece that can stand in isolation, were able to flourish, no longer stemmed by Colin Newman and Mike Thorne's more commercial leanings.
One had seen hints of what was to come with the Wire tracks Former Airline and The Other Window, both more-or-less made up of organised noise with narratives over the top, but little could have prepared the average listener for Dome.
Dome 1 was the first release and begins in a slightly mediocre fashion but at least highlights the duo's intentions in the narrative: 'Change the menu, a different revenue/A glorious change, refining the focus'. Things quickly pick up with the haunting and mesmerising Cruel when Complete and Rolling Upon my Day, a track that begins with busy rhythms and a wonderful guitar loop before mixing into a heavily echoed drum pattern and subtle vocals. Elsewhere, melodies and beats occasionally appear from under a barrage of mechanical noises and treated tapes.
Dome 2 continues experimentation with rhythm, noise and minimalism. It begins with the stunning Red Tent 1&2, which moves from quiet, soothing chords to a chaotic and harsh beat. An exhausted sounding Lewis vocal—'Quiet, the breath is crystal-clear/The red tent is our tomb'—adds to the claustrophobic feel. The narratives all seem to focus on the theme of exploration and loneliness, and the album seems more complete than Dome 1, ending with the chilling Keep it.
Dome certainly isn't easy listening but it was never meant to be. There is beauty within the noise and the harrowing narratives of Dome 2, along with the sheer variety of sound and noise in every piece, makes for an intriguing, interesting and disconcerting listening experience all at once.
Craig Grannell (1998)