Dilate is layered with unabashed rhythmic hues that are riveting and sexy. Acting as a bridge between Ani's acoustic guitar core and the more explorative instrumental realm found in later releases, Dilate is no doubt the product of a three week hole up at the live in studio, The Congress House in Austin, Texas, a favorite staple for future studio works. Love dirges mingle in a watery solitude that flow through a landscape, Ani describes as "a serpentine journey" which examines a single relationship from many angles.
Dark and melancholy but not without humor, "baptized in fluorescent light/ I found religion in the greeting card aisle/ now I know Hallmark was right…I used to be a Superhero". For a fallen superhero, the vulnerability of this album is unparalleled. Haunting the way the guitar bends on the edge of tuning responsive to the world it plays in. As for instrumentation, Ani throws down electric, acoustic, steel and bass guitars, Hammond organ, synthesizers, thumb piano and drums. Dilate hosts a special cast of characters: Andy Stochansky on drums, David Travers Smith on trumpet, and Michael Ramos on organ.
Not one for the FCC annual ballroom dance, 'Napoleon' is effused with electric guitar and the stellar observation, "everyone is a fucking Napoleon," they sure are girl and while that line is a concert sing-along favorite, 'Untouchable Face' takes another look at the F-word, the kind that leaves you speechless meaning far more than the standard L-O-V-E. But Ani doesn't use words like Love, at least not in 'Dilate', a song that describes life on the road with a busted organ (heart folks, not Hammond). On 'Adam and Eve', Ani plays acoustic and bass guitars with Andy on drums this tender environment is consummated by the heart wrenching solemnity and biblical allusion (a recurrent theme, "Amazing Grace" also appears, the first cover to make it on a record, well of course she'd start with a 1754 classic) nothing like despair to summon up that infamous ancestral pair.
Recorded in December 1995 and January 1996, you almost want to wipe the snow off the CD before placing it in the player and grabbing a beer or seven. But when you are laid out, Ani has pre-meditated the final chapter "I ended the album with 'Joyful Girl' because I see it as a song of redemption; you travel down this really steep slope until you hit bottom, then you're in the valley where it's green and you can rest". Who can rest? – We want to dance around and play 'Shameless' over and over and over again until our neighbors complain or join in!
Hair: long colorful blue and yellow braids
Artwork note: folksinger in a dress
Love: pining, murky, tortured, reeling
Misc: Dilate charted on Billboard's Top 200, earned Ani her first significant commercial airplay. Also Dave Matthews does a cover of 'Joyful Girl'.
AKA: The black one (not to be confused with Ani's guitar of the same name)
"A microscopic examination of envy and adoration, a hard-won lesson that you can't know anyone the way you hoped you could ...a beautiful record...the genuine article."
Released: May 1996
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