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TRACK LIST: 1. Stories for Telling 5:39 2. The Icy Frozen Ocean 3:47 3. Neon Kabuki 1:29 4. I'd Rather Be There 4:12 5. The Death of an American Man 4:40 6. The Icy Frozen Reprise 1:07 7. Fragment & Splinter 6:56 8. Absentee Ballad 3:51 9. Pine Box 3:43 10. Something That You've Never Said 5:21 11. Summer Island Park 2:24 12. The Clouds Plateau 10:02 SOLO PILOT: Dw. Dunphy – vocals; instruments
Prolusion. US composer and multi-instrumentalist Dw. DUNPHY has been actively creating music since the mid ‘90s, and starting in 2002 he has also steadily been releasing full fledged albums rather than cassettes, which is what he started out with. "Enigmatic" is his seventh studio effort and was issued in the spring of 2009.
Analysis. When listening to the first half of this production, one can't help but think about artists like The Beatles and the Electric Light Orchestra. The relatively straightforward, catchy melodies and captivating chorus segments both remind one heavily of these artists, the vocals strengthening this impression to a great deal. Acoustic guitars and piano are central aspects of the proceedings, while symphonic synths add an art rock dimension to these tracks. In the second half of the album Dunphy moves away from this sound to some extent, where creations such as Pine Box and Absentee Ballad in particular have more of a sacral atmosphere to them. The synths gradually get more important in the overall sound as the album moves on, richer in textures and with some slight dissonant touches to them as well, but the compositions as such remain pretty straightforward excursions – with melody and atmosphere being more important than complexities and advanced features. Indeed, apart from the slight differences in style between the two halves of this production, straightforward is a key word and lo-fi is another description that warrants mentioning. This is a homemade affair, where Dunphy has done everything himself: kudos to him for that, but this aspect of the overall creation is pretty noticeable and not always in a good manner. Mix and production aren't the best around, as one might expect from the lo-fi mentioned, and the drums in particular are lacking: too dominant in the overall mix and – at least as I regard it – lacking somewhat in terms of complexity and refinement to suit the songs in the best possible manner. Many of the tracks also suffer from a slightly cardboard box sound overall. Still, these technical features of the album don't overshadow the fact that many of the compositions at hand are pretty interesting and captivating - despite the weaknesses mentioned. Pine Box in particular is a strong contender for my favorite track of the year. Opening track Stories for Telling is one best avoided though – I don't know what was intended here, but apart from an energetic drum pattern I couldn't find any redeeming features on this particular venture.
Conclusion. More or less straight forward compositions are the name of the game here, somewhere in between pop and rock in overall style with art rock embellishments of the symphonic variety. As long as you don't mind a lo-fi mix and production, and are comfortable with music of this kind without many complexities in terms of compositional structure and performance, this is a CD that might be worth checking out further.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 10, 2009
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