For his 2009 debut under the Amen Dunes moniker, Dia, Damon McMahon followed in the great hermetic tradition of Thoreau — holing out in a cabin in the woods, later returning to civilization with a thick beard and a cathartic experience under his belt. Dia‘s murky color, arboreal soundscapes, insular lyricism, and sometimes frantic mood swings fit the archetype of a creative mind exorcising demons amongst nature’s splendor.
On the forthcoming Through Donkey Jaw, McMahon again wears his shroud of mystery well, this time concealing a subtly dynamic sound that bolsters broader instrumentation and songs free of tension. Dia felt claustrophobic and confined at times, rumbling with the sounds of kinetic psychedelia attempting to bubble through the cracks in the walls of McMahon’s Catskill retreat. In contrast, Through Donkey Jaw offers ample breathing room, showcasing McMahon’s sparse and cosmic guitar melodies as they float gently above deep pockets of muffled distortion and dusty trails. The breezy, hummable hooks within the peyote-fueled album closer “Christopher” feel rollicking and freewheeling, yet still exist within the shadows around Amen Dunes’ trademark foreboding ambience.
The resplendent sonic palette of Amen Dunes’ grainy acid folk parallels the mind-bending songwriting of Skip Spence and Roky Erickson, though McMahon carves out his own niche. A monumental and articulate effort throughout, Through Donkey Jaw proves Amen Dunes will continue his vision quest, albeit less overtly.
Through Donkey Jaw is available August 16th from the musically cohesive, graphically distinct, all around solid label Sacred Bones.
POSSIBLY RELEVANT :::
Amen Dunes – Dia
[SXSW] Amen Dunes – Longbranch Inn, Austin – 3.17.11
Amen Dunes: “Christopher”