|Damaged Bug — Bunker Funk (3/10, 2017)|
Damaged Bug — Bunker Funk (3/10, 2017) ♦⁄♦ Recorded at home in the fall of 2013 with a variety of synthesizers, drum machines, and assorted hand~made electronics, Damaged Bug is Oh Sees mastermind John Dwyer’s latest bit of cracked pop alchemy. The project is the cure to the ailment of too much guitar for too long. Fizzing and sputtering like a glowing temperamental cockpit control panel, this is Dwyer bunkered deep in a blinking laboratory and penning songs about the long arc of our travels across space and time. Propulsive beats and synthetic veneers support and coat laser guided melodies reflecting off shiny metal surfaces, and instrumental interludes pop in and out like breaks in the asteroid belt.
♦⁄♦ This album is an intriguing prospect for those who want to delve deeper into the mind of John Dwyer. There’s no mistaking that familiar urge to create which is ever present on Oh Sees albums, and when this album takes flight you find yourself wishing he would stay the course and produce a funk epic. This does remain an album for the hardcore fans though and a curious addition to Dwyers ever expanding music. That he finds time to create something as offbeat as this is remarkable in itself and we should appreciate it for what it is. Damaged Bug may not match up to the might of Dwyers main band but as a side project it produces enough excitement and interest to keep both him and us happy.
Location: San Francisco, CA
Genre: Low~tech electronic pop
Album release: 3/10, 2017
Record Label: Castle Face Records
01. Structure Image Approach 0:26
02. Bog Dash 3:09
03. The Cryptologist 3:12
04. Slay The Priest 2:50
05. Ugly Gamma 3:24
06. Ricks Jummy 3:20
07. Gimme Tamanthum 3:03
08. No One Notice The Fly 3:23
09. Bunker Funk 2:51
10. Mood Slime 3:20
11. Liquid Desert 3:08
12. Heavy Cathedral 1:00
13. Unmanned Scanner 2:33
14. The Night Shopper 4:24
♦ψ♦ Oh my, what is this? The alien globule of Damaged Bug’s errant planet has circled the sun and re~enters our orbit where last year’s Cold Hot Plumbs left off. Urgent falsetto morbidities detail Damaged Bug’s most rhythmically adventurous offering yet, syncopating lush landscapes with moon~shot death rays. Witness in horror the tractor beam pull of Slay The Priest — a breathless sprint through unfamiliar enemy territory — erratic laser beam synths dredge the lake, hard panned double drums resurrect dead heartbeats — load thy crossbow, friend, this night is long and we appear beset on all sides. The Bug is back and more hideous than ever — join us in a gawp at its iridescent shell, its alien mandibles…and the guts streaming from the wound. 3 sides on 2 LPs in a gatefold jacket, with an etched 4th side.
♦ψ♦ GLOW IN THE DARK — 200 made
♦ψ♦ HAZED AND DAZED — 300 made
♦ψ♦ HALF CANDY HALF POISON — 500 made
♦ψ♦ PASTILLE POINTILLIST — 500 made
♦ψ♦ All colored vinyl is limited to one each per personCredits:
♦ Heidi Alexander Vocals
♦ John Dwyer Bass, Bongos, Composer, Congas, Drums, Electric Bagpipes, Engineer, Flute, Guitar, Mellotron, Mixing, Omnichord, Percussion, Saxophone, Synthesizer, Vocals
♦ Matt Jones Layout
♦ Ryan Moutinho Drums
♦ Daniel Rincon Inside Photo
Kim Ilkowski | March 8, 2017, 9:44 am
••• “The world is dying oh my god/ To be alive right now is such a gas.” If there was any way to describe 2017 so far, there’s no doubt it’s this line from “Unmanned Scanner,” one of the many new songs off of Damaged Bug’s latest LP Bunker Funk. The side project of Thee Oh Sees frontman John Dwyer, Damaged Bug continues to experiment with all things electronic and outer space on their follow~up to 2015’s Cold Hot Plumbs (and that tarot card 7″ bundle from 2016). Oozing with psychedelic guitar work and busy synth arrangements, Bunker Funk delivers a 14~song space story, at times thrilling and at others downright spooky. To call it otherworldly is an understatement.
••• We already heard “Bog Dash” early this year, and it sounds at home aside the frantic scurry of “The Cryptologist,” which literally goes on about digging up bodies in a graveyard with lines recited like a ritual chant. On “Slay The Priest,” the synths edge their way into full~fledged extraterrestrial spaceship drones that later come to fruition on “Ugly Gamma,” which unabashedly plays with this alien narrative. The album’s title track offers just what it suggests, one of the more funk~driven songs on the album. It’s easy to get lost in the heavy psych and drift from reality. In the same vein as “The Cryptologist,” “Mood Slime” also revolves around death, but this time more so what happens next with the lyric, “This flesh is fertilizer/ Have no doubt you’ll be right beside her.” Standout track “Liquid Desert” momentarily sheds the album’s peculiar skin for something a little less spacey and more concentrated. ••• http://www.stereogum.com/Also:
BY NIC SMITH, Posted March 9, 2017
••• Damaged Bug = Ty Segall + Animal Collective + Gøggs
••• Under the moniker of Damaged Bug, Thee Oh Sees’ frontman John Dwyer adds to his already hefty discography with this year’s release of his third solo album. Much like previous Damaged Bug records, Dwyer maintains his sporadic and stream~of~consciousness playing style that, while flirting with traditional psychedelic sounds, weirds a lot harder than it rocks. Still, it’s a good time, though I wouldn’t recommend it on a hangover.
••• The album begins deceptively with the gentle, 26~second intro “Structure Image Approach” before hitting you with the blaring, modulated synth screech of “Bog Dash” — a track that resembles an early Ty Segall number stripped of reverbed vocals and big guitar effects. Like some of his noise~artist contemporaries, Dwyer juxtaposes aggressive, almost note~less static chatter with slick drum and bass lines to produce the effect of fighting for one’s sanity. It’s definitely destabilizing, but good psychedelic music has to do its job of both overwhelming the listener as well as providing a grounding line for one’s attention. The drums and bass are useful throughout the album in this sense, especially later in Dwyer’s more double~black~diamond~bizarre tracks, such as “Ugly Gamma” and “No One Notice The Fly.”
••• Stylistically, Bunker Funk feels almost like a direct response to the work of Wand and the turn of Ty Segall’s sound found in Emotional Mugger — he even adopts that same singing voice of a mystic medieval villain. However, given their camaraderie in the L.A. psych scene, Bunker Funk comes off more as a dialogue than a theft of style. Some tracks are definitely branded with Dwyer’s oddities, which just couldn’t have been produced by anyone else. “The Cryptologist,” for example, unfolds out of one continuous bouncing bass riff, and in the following, “Slay The Priest,” Dwyer makes a head~banger out of a single, melting synth sound. Still, though the album starts strong, Dwyer eventually drifts too deep into experimental territory to be really enjoyable — unless perhaps you’re the kind of theory~head who feels inspired by modern phenomena like teakettles and the noises made by workplace machinery. I mean, sure, he seems to be having a fun time playing around with synthesizers and modulating guitar effects, but it’s not quite coherent enough to be provocative. Surprisingly, the title track is one of the weakest, with its high~pitched trills serving as a kind of anti~hook. Listening, it wasn’t until the bright guitar riff of “Unmanned Scanner” (I’ll admit, probably the most accessible track on the album) that I remembered I was listening to the frontman of Thee Oh Sees.
••• Now, I’m sure that if Dwyer wanted to make another Oh Sees album, he would have. After 16 releases with his main band, he’s probably itching to make anything that’s at least a couple steps removed. However, unless you’re a superfan of Dwyer’s music, the entire Damaged Bug project feels like it’s not really for anyone but himself. In my opinion, he probably should have waited to release this until he had a handle on the spirit that was behind the first four tracks of Bunker Funk. But hey, you know, new music is new music, and it’s at least a good sign that Dwyer and the other psych leaders are not trying to just sound vintage anymore. — Nic Smith ••• http://www.slugmag.com/
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra; Score: ****
|Damaged Bug — Bunker Funk (3/10, 2017)|