Damon McMahon’s current band, Amen Dunes, has a name that perfectly encapsulates the odd, secretive majesty of their music. I must admit, I hadn’t seen Damon perform since before he moved to China three years ago. His latest project, an intense trio, is even more all-encompassing than the last, a project under his own name, with the Mansions album on Astralwerks.
The newest music, from Amen Dunes’ second album Through Donkey Jaw or the Murder Dull Mind EP (Sacred Bones, 2011), may fit nicely in the psych folk genre, but it’s as if the genre was just invented by Damon himself, since his songs are seemingly conjured from such a raw, hidden place in an alternate reality. And really, who needs petty genres anyway? Let’s just transcend them all in this case.
Certain Amen Dunes songs, “Not a Slave”, “Diane”, etc., could put you in the state of possession (thanks WFMU, for that review note), conjuring an otherworldly quality that’s so personal and universal at once. I remember my mother, telling me the story of Baba Yaga when I was around eight, every time we went for a walk in the forest behind our house; and there it is, Amen Dunes’ epic cathartic tune, “Baba Yaga”, appearing towards the end of the set as the biggest crowd pleaser. What goes around, comes around, and, like a strong memory and Amen Dunes’ music, is subtle, central and burned in your mind.