DUMMY – ” Mandatory Enjoyment ” Best Albums of 2021

Posted: January 1, 2022 in MUSIC

Dummy refuses to slow down. After releasing two cassette EP’s in 2020 (on Popwig and Born Yesterday respectively), Dummy’s debut full-length album 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, centrepiece “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. In contrast to blissed-out instrumentation, Dummy’s sardonic lyricism examines “the burden of modern life, consumerism, environmental collapse, alienation, and other anxieties born out of living in this absurd moment in history”. Interior design, marine pollution, the psychology of commercial architecture, and nuclear testing are all featured subjects. Dummy’s restless creativity keeps them moving ever-forward, continuously challenging themselves and pushing their sound into exciting and exhilarating places.

Rock music might be a means to no end for some bands, but for Dummy, it’s an opportunity to surface and synthesize more interesting bits of popular music that otherwise go overlooked by professional three-chord wonders who own only three records. Affixing their lengthy and diverse influences proudly on their sleeve—and literally listing some of them on the sleeve of this very record—on “Mandatory Enjoyment“, the Los Angeles five-piece revel in restless and rule-less punk creativity, zipping from sunshine-y indie pop to noisy drone to Tropicália to Japanese ambient to krautrock and shoegaze and basically every cool genre that ever existed, ever. While musical experimentation this deliriously heady can sometimes become an annoying exercise in hipper-than-thou footnoting, “Mandatory Enjoyment” is one of those rare rock records that pushes the form forward by looking back with reverence rather than for reference.

Dummy’s first full length, “Mandatory Enjoyment” – out October 22nd, 2021 on Trouble in Mind Records.

Recommended if you like: Silver Apples, Laraaji, Velvet Underground, Stereolab, Cluster, Antena, My Bloody Valentine, Haruomi Hosono, Carl Sagan, Yo La Tengo, Finis Africae, Midori Takada.

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