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WPGM Recommends: D.D Dumbo – Utopia Defeated (Album Review)

Give in to his magnetising force and succumb to the enlightening possibilities, for transcendence could be the reward. In the visually stunning video to single “Satan“, a crowd of emotionless humans sacrificially walk zombie-like towards a gleaming light, seemingly tranquil once they reach their destination. Listening to the debut album of Australia’s D.D Dumbo is so spiritually uplifting, that it makes you feel like one of those enlightened humans.

This is both due to Oliver Hugh Perry’s words of wisdom – which are environmental, scientific and economical – and his mind-bending psychedelic musical textures. In a masterful way, it’s as if Perry has started a cult religion called “Dumboism” and the Castlemaine resident’s first record Utopia Defeated acts as his doctrine.

In a similar vain to Anohni’s Hopelessness, D.D Dumbo preaches about his own growing concerns about the future to the unconverted but in an abstract surreal manner that plays out like a activist children’s storybook. The self-confessed vegan tackles humanity’s disrespect for nature on “Walrus“: “The duck screams out as it chokes on medicine. It’s nature mocked then stuffed and murdered“.

Furthermore on “In The Water“, we are transformed to the ocean and inside the point of view of one’s it’s poisoned creatures: “My body is ending / I only eat plankton but now I’m dying“.

“Satan” and “Alihukwe” tiptoe nearer to subject of some kind of mankind catastrophe and the destruction of John Lennon’s hopeful message of Utopian peace. The former is before the event and consists of of warning signs, some more fantastical than others. “I saw a UFO, on a horse in Mexico” could be a reference to the four horsemen on the apocalypse, whilst “AI in the Higgs Boson” picks up in the hysteria surrounding the experiments of God’s Particle in 2012 in Switzerland, that Professor Stephen Hawking feared would wipe out the universe.

Perry goes on to “pray for everyone as a godless sapien. As the zoo impounds us all“. Alihukwe, a survivor from D.D Dumbo’s EP Tropical Oceans, appears to take place after some Third World War event: “Just me and insects now and the wind that shakes the building“.

However, D.D Dumbo appears to have found an answer for those lost in the chaos on the song “The Day I First Found God” – which also references the biblical story about the Parting of The Red Sea – and optimistically reminds listeners of one of humanity’s  greatest scientific achievements on “Cortisol” by including the infamous Neil Armstrong speech: “That’s one small step…

The music is just as mesmerising and empowering. Although it’s a typical addition to Australia’s burgeoning psychedelic scene following in the footsteps on Pond and Tame Impala, the fact he’s a mulit-instrumentalist that does everything by himself, that his songs have verses that are as equally spectacular as their accompanying choruses and that he takes the genre’s most associated instruments such as sitars and mellotrons and purposely distorts them with oscillation to make many sounds identifiable is incredible and noteworthy.

There’s also a dreamy quality that sounds wonderfully effortless (hear the raining of bells on “Toxic City“) and an enthusiastic blend of world music reminiscent of Yeasayer (the hyperactive Brother) and for the older generation Paul Simon’s Graceland and Malcolm McClaren’s Duck Rock. D.D Dumbo notably  has his own idiosyncrasies that make him distinctive including his springy production and unique use of steel guitars that sound startled and fidgety, as well as a catchy quirky rhythmic progression that surfaces underneath.

Listeners are guided by Oliver Hugh Perry’s engaging vocal ability which shape-shifts and powerfully pounds the listener in the heart and the brain. Understandably compared to Sting in their inflections on tracks such as “Walrus”, they can also ripple and fade like hallucinogenic bubbles.

They can also wail into the starry skies, possess an African harmonic chant (“Alihukwe”), inhabit a disturbed impression of a Jamie Liddell’s soulful voice (“King Franco Picasso“) and scream with convincing devastation (“Cortisol“). From the soothing music, to the strong lyrics and to his emotive voice, it’s an album that refreshes the soul as well as the rational and creative mind.

Purchase D.D Dumbo’s Utopia Defeated on iTunes here.

Words by Matt Hobbs

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