New York based Damon McMahon returns under the moniker Amen Dunes with the most substantial and revealing piece of work to date, Love. Previous releases from the McMahon such as ‘Through Donkey Jaw’ have been somewhat hasty, improvisational recordings, finished in a matter of weeks. Amen Dunes’ third release, a year and a half in the making, is truly their labour of love and dedication.
‘Lilac In Hand’ is the first single released from Amen Dunes’ Love and it’s a great taster of the 60s/70s psychedelic and folk combo that they manage to whip up so fittingly. The rolling, rhythmic percussion accompany the buzzing murmur of McMahon’s echoed far-away vocals.
Damon McMahon escaped his usual NYC dwelling and set off to record some tracks of the LP in Montreal, a city that’s bred many a masterpiece of late. This little fact about the album is notable, undoubtedly altering the finished tone of the record. This ethereal, peaceful, creative energy that McMahon has tapped into surely would have eluded him had he taken inspiration from the buzz of New York, one of the busiest cities in the western world. No, that would not have done at all.
The artwork, composing of a half naked woman watching a sunrise over a distant forest, is the exact kind of imagery that goes hand in hand with the cinematic and ambient atmosphere that Amen Dunes have built up so well. Alas, It is not all about sunrises over mountains as we sit hand in hand around a campfire, and songs like ‘Splits Are Parted’, ‘Green Eyes’, and ‘Everybody is Crazy’ offer more of a fiery edge, safe in the knowledge that the glint of peacefulness remains overhead. Overall, it is an album of reflection and resolution.
I fear I may have misled prospective listeners into thinking that this is simply a boring, sleepy album. Admittedly, it is true that there are aspects of the music that can, at times, be a struggle to remain engaged with. However, this carefully constructed piece of work has enough broken melodies, intriguing percussion and story-telling lyrics to keep you, for the most part, alert and impressed.