Amen Dunes
Freedom


4.0
excellent

Review

by Kiran EMERITUS
October 17th, 2019 | 8 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Something spiritual.

The most remarkable thing you are sure to notice about Freedom, the fifth album by Damon McMahon under the moniker Amen Dunes, is his voice. It is a weapon, deployed against Freedom's forward-leaning arrangements; tense, drawling, violent and muscular in one moment, and gleaming with an elastic, searching soulfulness the next. It is an utterly unique instrument and takes front and center as songs like "Miki Dora" pulse with a murky, vigourous groove, stretching words and phrases while sparring with a bass riff brought to the front of the mix. His voice imbues each moment with a shape-shifting, malleable quality that "Believe" showcases as it launches into his orbit, his voice pushing and pulling a simple rhythm guitar into the songs climax, tepid and uninflected to begin with, unknotting itself, before broadening and growing with energy as he sings, "She'd say, she'd say" in a quivering vibrato.

McMahon's voice is the headline but Freedom is an album that is masterful in the small decisions. "Blue Rose" adds a tambourine half-way through its shuddering, downtempo melody that opens a blind and changes its dynamic completely. The kitschy synth backdrop that continuously reinvents itself behind the vocals on "Calling Paul The Suffering" is bustling with tiny moments of gratification, while title-track "Freedom" is dotted intermittently by bright and brief piano and synth melodies which set the tone with more immediacy than anything else on the track.

Similar to wu lyf's Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, it is an album that cares less whether you understand what is being said, and moreso what it is trying to make you feel. The swampy roots rock of "Dracula", the albums most straightforward song, grapples with a story about coming to terms with a dark past and moving towards redemption, but its focus is a menacing, staccato melody, a rear-facing mirror towards what it is running from. This quality is mostly thanks to the fact Freedom contains the clearest and most detail-rich production of Amen Dunes' catalogue by far and highlights like "Miki Dora" and "Believe", which tend towards the euphoric, are elevated for it. It is particularly in the case of the latter, as it hoists itself into a proto-state of seemingly cosmic independence, that you find McMahon at his very best, his otherworldly sermonizing separating himself from his peers, the other records of 2018, the minor space that he inhabits in culture, by crafting moments that bellow with his strange, unusual energy. It is something to behold.



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user ratings (66)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
October 17th 2019


6123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Believe": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgHA0sYvxsQ

Faraudo
October 17th 2019


4013 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ugh, such an underappreciated album. Good to read a piece about it!

Kiran
Emeritus
October 17th 2019


6123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, I was sad to see how overlooked this was when I came here wanting to talk about it! Haven't written about music since 2013 (!) but I thought it needed a review

Sinternet
October 17th 2019


24433 Comments


i like the wu lyf comparison there, very apt. heard a couple of tracks off this and it was undeniably interesting, never been in a rush to check it though. nice review

Faraudo
October 18th 2019


4013 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Yes, I was sad to see how overlooked this was when I came here wanting to talk about it! Haven't written about music since 2013 (!) but I thought it needed a review"



That's quite some time, glad you came back to write this one.

aiioli
October 24th 2019


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

brilliant review for a brilliant album



this has got cult classic written all over it if you ask me. fits a certain mood and atmosphere perfectly

Kiran
Emeritus
October 25th 2019


6123 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't be surprised if you're proven right aiioli

brandontaylor
November 10th 2019


1093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this has the makings of a really great album, there are moments in here that really capture what a timeless indie track is all about. unfortunately the album suffers a bit from being samey and some songs are a bit overlong, but i'm super excited for his next project.



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