DUMMY –  ” Mandatory Enjoyment “

Posted: October 29, 2021 in MUSIC
Tags: ,
Dummy "Mandatory Enjoyment" black vinyl

Stereolab comparisons may be mandatory but the debut album from this drony Los Angeles. band featuring former members of Wildhoney moves beyond the bachelor pad,  After releasing two cassette EP’s in 2020 (on Popwig and Born Yesterday respectively), Dummy’s debut full-length album “Mandatory Enjoyment” arrives via Chicago’s Trouble in Mind Records. Employing pummelling guitars and celestial ambience within the same breath, the band folds a myriad of reference points into their drone-pop style. Influence from ’60s melodicism and ’90s UK noise pop can be found woven in with inspiration from spiritual jazz, Japanese new age, and Italian minimalism.

Dummy dodges the brooding, dark, dramatic tropes of contemporary “artistic” music often found in punk, experimental, and electronic, instead insisting on joyous and euphoric sonic palettes. They refuse to be artistically stagnant, continuously shifting their approach to writing across 12 tracks. Shaped by performances around Los Angeles in 2019, songs like “Daffodils” and “Fissured Ceramics” feature relentless driving energy and ample psychedelic noise. Elsewhere, Dummy counterbalances the aggression with meditative synthscapes focused on sound design and studio experimentation, like on the motorik “X-Static Blanket”. Finally, centerpiece “H.V.A.C.” and the album’s final track, “Atonal Poem”, seek to synthesize these two poles, offering multi-part journeys through uncharted sonic territory.

Baltimore band Wildhoney have been dormant for a while now — they are missed — but guitarists Joe Trainor and Nathan O’Dell are still playing together in Los Angeles band Dummy alongside Alex Ewell (who played on Wildhoney’s Naive Castle EP) and Emma Maatman (Kent State). Like Wildhoney, Dummy have shoegazey elements to their sound, but they more directly pull from drony psych and komisch, be it Cluster, Neu! or The United States of America.

Single chords are jammed upon for extended periods while vintage combo organs and synths hum and gurgle. Dense, ethereal harmonies mingle with fuzzed out guitars and jazzy/motorik drumming. Melodies are sweet but cut with white noise. If all this makes Dummy sound like a certain group known for Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, well they would probably be the first to admit the influence, from the sonics (see “Daffodils,” “Fissured Ceramics”) to the song titles that seem to have come from a Duophonic Refrigerator Magnet Poetry set. (Does that exist? It should.) But they are very good at it and, following last year’s two EPs, Mandatory Enjoyment finds the band staking out their own corner of the universe, with tracks like the beautiful “Atonal Poem” and the tripped-out “X-Static Blanket” pointing to intoxicating new directions in which to head.

Tune in now, but stay tuned, too

released October 22, 2021

Dummy: Alex, Emma, Joe & Nathan.

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