Monday, 17 October 2011

Dadamah - 'This is Not a Dream' (Kranky)

Welcome to the D's, and welcome to the murky 4-track atmosphere of Port Chalmers, New Zealand.  This CD compiles the recorded lifespan of Dadamah, a project of Roy Montgomery and Peter Stapleton in the early 1990s.  Vocalist Kim Pieters wrote the liner notes but they're pretty damn hard to read, and as much as I've loved this CD for years I've never really forced myself through them all.  If you're looking for crystal-clear psychedelia this is the wrong place; Dadamah are lo-fi and have that classic kiwi downer vibe, much like Nocturnal Projections or Montgomery's first band, the Pin Group.  There's churning guitar chords, military drum-tapping (courtesy of Stapleton who rarely gets to shine, due in part to the mix, but knows his place) and dense organ chords over it all.  The band works themself into a Velvet Underground-jammyness on tracks like 'Brian's Children' and 'Limboswing' and it's all quite inspiring, or was to a teenage dronehead like myself.  'Scratch Sun' is repetitive and builds to a manic pulse, but it somehow stays grounded in space. Hey, punk and minimalism can co-exist, and we don't even need  to be aggressive.  There are "hooks", or at least song structures that get lodged in your brain.  Throughout, the deep male vocals of Montgomery and Pieters' earthy drawl complement each other perfectly on songs like 'Papa Doc', even if she is just wailing in the mist.  There's beautiful layers of chorus and reverb on the guitar - this is before he started making all of those beautiful, shimmery solo discs like Temple IV, but the shimmer is there, and it's fucking electrifying.  I've loved losing myself in the epic chord progression of 'High Tension House', Dadamah's masterpiece.  There's a gentle pitter-pattern behind it all and the swirl starts to come in.  This isn't noise, nor is it punk, but it's a fucking vision, painted with the broadest strokes possible.  

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