Dunning & Underwood | The Blow – Volume 5
Front & Follow (CS/DL)
Dunning & Underwood‘s wildly interesting addition to The Blow series utilizes the Mammoth Beat Organ, that grinds and delivers a circus like feel as things start to take shape on Song for Chimney Stacks. Designed as “a modular, mechanical music contraption designed as a two-player, semi-autonomous musical instrument, it plays unusual, sometimes erratic compositions drawing on drone music, minimalist repetition and fairground organ techniques.” I must concur, this organ grinder is as animated as it is obligatorily old-timey. As they work in unison this contraption sounds like a rickety pull cart that needs some grease, but it’s bloated with the potential to induce memories by the volume. You can witness the creation for yourself here:
For all its squeaks and circumstance, Dunning & Underwood manage to find a way to bring the momentum to a sense of more minimal fluctuations of rugged quietude, Trapped in a Walled Garden. Even though what one might envision are the sides of this instrument being peeled back, I consider the nature of its links to zydeco and the cajun-inflected music of the American bayou.
A real physicality is exhumed here, recorded in such a way that the listener feels inside the room as these gentlemen take it apart at the seams. Blown Coda offers that breathy blowing sound that ignites an eyebrow wrinkling set of tonal pitch, transforming the space into an atonal mirage. It’s an alarm call, but not very pleasant in its cadence. All the better that the percussion-driven Acorn Factory follows with a much more laidback atmosphere. There is an underlying rhythm here, though widely disconnected from its source, manages to smooth the previous rough spots that tore their way through.
This collection of eight tracks, each quite distinct on their own as individual vignettes, really pops in the percussive transduction of In Suggestible State. Each half-beat trips itself up, and the addition of Gamelan-like instruments to compliment makes no sense whatsoever, but somehow becomes a complex work that is quite charming. Cymbals clang on the oscillating Padlocks on Bridge as they are pulling these symbols of everlasting love from the surface, one by one. The wiggly Odd Duty uses a tranquilized voice sample that comes off like a purring saw accompanied by drumming similar to what some very lucky listeners may have heard on Mike Kelley’s soundtrack to Day Is Done.
This perfectly pairs with the rev into a sparkling, airy avant jazz Demon who is having his way with the players. They came correct to work out this demon in this particular way. The forlorn horns and anxious drumming is as funky as this record gets. Rat-a-tat-tat the night away.