Wolves and Wishes, the fourth LP from the wizardly Martin Dosh, may have been fused in Minneapolis (with contributions from artists like Will Oldham and Andrew Bird), but hear it through headphones while wandering New York at dusk and you'll think it was specifically made to accompany aimless strolls through the city's more deserted quarters. That the album's expansive soundscape is richly layered with looping keyboard, guitar, sax, banjo, percussion and other surprising instrumentation will come as no surprise to those familiar with Dosh's last album, this fascinating video, or his immensely fruitful collaboration with Bird.

Tonight Dosh plays Mercury Lounge with backup from longtime collaborator Mike Lewis (tickets), and tomorrow night he'll be at Union Hall (tickets); Anathallo are opening both shows.

Your latest album is called Wolves and Wishes. What inspired that name? It’s actually inspired, or rather borrowed, from a Dr. Seuss book called McElligot's Pool; there’s a part where an old guy is telling a kid he’s never going to catch a fish in a little tiny pool. He says, “You sit there all day with your worms and your wishes; you’ll grow a beard long before you catch any fishes.” But it’s also kind of about wolves being the predatory nature of the world and wishes being the better nature of humanity. I don’t know; it could have any meaning you want. I just liked the way it sounded.

Are you aware of any ways in which fatherhood has influenced your music making process?
Well, certainly one way is that my studio is in my basement and I have to be really quiet. So I sit in the basement at night when everyone’s sleeping and put on my headphones and work every night for two or three hours.

How does your approach to recording an album differ from Andrew Bird’s approach?
He conceives his songs generally with a guitar or by whistling melodies all the time. And then he records the song. My process tends to be sort of about recording everything to see what sounds cool and then patching things together. So my stuff sort of arises out of improvisations and then gets whittled down into a song. In a lot of ways he knows what he wants to hear and sometimes it doesn’t work out and we have to re-record the song but he has more of a bottom-up recording style, and in my mind I’m sort of top down. I make this sort of iceberg of messy stuff and then whittle it all away into a toothpick.

You say he whistles a lot in daily life, and you’re on tour with him often. Do you ever have to say to him, “Hey, man, could we give the whistling a rest for a bit?”
[Laughs] No, not at all. Actually, I get into the whistling on tour, too. I still can’t project as well as he can but I’m working my tremolo and my vibrato.

Has he given you any tips? No, not really. I’m sure if I asked him he would but I’m just trying to practice on my own.

Did you come up with the material for this album while on the road with Bird? Not so much. I did bring some rough ideas with me that I would listen to as I would go to sleep and sometimes play some stuff for Andrew and Jeremy [Ylvisaker; Bird collaborator]. It was sort of the beginning of the editorial process while on the road. During our last European tour I set up a keyboard and four track loops on the bus for a few nights and recorded. None of that stuff made Wolves and Wishes but it may be on the new record. I’m kind of recording all the time so it’s kind of hard to say when one record stars and another one ends.

How has this solo tour been going so far?
It’s been going pretty well. We’ve only really done three total shows and the turnouts have been so-so; about a hundred each night or so. But we’re playing some cities we’ve never played before.

Who do you have performing with you?
A guy named Mike Lewis; he’s played saxophone on the last three records. He also plays some bent keyboard stuff and bass on a bunch of tunes and a little percussion. He does some looping stuff with me too.

What did you want to do differently with this album, to forge new ground after The Lost Take? The main differences I see are the songs seem to me to be a little more patient. There’s some more textural, drone-y, ambient stuff happening on Wolves and Wishes than on The Lost Take. On that one there are melodies popping up every four bars.

I think the last time you were in New York you played to a sold out Beacon Theater with Andrew Bird. Do you like playing these smaller rooms on your solo tour better? I do because it’s easier to feed off the energy of the people who are watching you play in a lot of ways. And when I’m playing with Andrew and Jeremy there’s a lot more sound involved and it’s a totally different experience. Also because with them we’re on a tour bus, whereas now I’m in a van with friends and driving a lot. The small rooms are, in some ways, more exciting. I’m a lot busier; there’s always something to do. Touring with Andrew there’s a lot of down time now. You get to the venue and wait around, you sound check and then wait around some more. I would say I feel more connected with the audience on my solo tours than I do when I play with Andrew.

When you guys played the Beacon it seemed like the band was set up way back upstage, far from the audience. Was that intentional? You know, I have no idea. I was kind of wondering that myself. I don’t think that was our intention but I have no idea why we were that far back.

What was the first instrument you learned to play?
Piano. I started taking lessons when I was six and did that for about five years and then kind of gave up because I wasn’t that into practicing. Then I picked up drums when I was fifteen. I’ve been playing drums for about twenty years or so.

I assume you’re going to be with Andrew Bird at All Points West? Absolutely. Yes. That’s going to be awesome.

Where are you guys at with his new album?
Let’s see. I want to say maybe 80% there. I think there are nine or ten tunes done. Jeremy just went to Chicago to do some bass on a bunch of the stuff. I’m not sure what the total count of tunes is that are going to be on there. Jeremy and Andrew went to Nashville and recorded I think seven songs there with guitars, violins and vocals. They sent me the files and I recorded a bunch of strange percussion stuff in my basement and then went to Chicago with Jeremy and did some live stuff there. And when Andrew was in Minneapolis for the World of Dosh show we recorded some looping in my basement.

A fan made him a sock monkey doll. Did you get one in your likeness? Yeah, that was in Detroit at the beginning of the Armchair tour. Some lady had made a sock monkey doll for Bird and for me. But she didn’t realize Jeremy was in the band too, so she felt bad or something and she Fed-Exed one to Jeremy in his likeness, so he got one too. I actually gave mine to my son. It’s in his pile of stuffed animals in his room.

What’s next after this solo tour?
I haven’t toured solo since last year on the west coast, which went really, really well. If this tour goes well, hopefully… Well, I’ll get home and then there are some shows with Andrew. And in the fall I’ll probably do another three week solo tour of the U.S. and maybe put out a 7” or something to sort of help promote the tour. I really enjoy touring and playing with Mike is always an amazing adventure so I want to tour while I can. Because you know when Bird’s record comes out next year it’s going to be sort of Andrew Bird time for a while. That’s probably going to start in February or March.