By Maggie McPhee
Amen Dunes, a.k.a. sound-shifting rock artist Damon McMahon, has dedicated a lifetime to exploring selfdom through sound. If the past 10 years have been a dark wood of introspective, sometimes alienating incantations, then the project’s newest release is the long-awaited clearing. Freedom, rough and rhythmic, will revive listeners with fresh air and sweet sun.
Freedom took three years to make, with help from band mainstays Jordi Wheeler and Parker Kindred, plus newcomers Delicate Steve, electronic musician Panoram and producer Chris Coady (Beach House, TV on the Radio).
Despite these decorative changes, Freedom remains a continuation of McMahon’s personal examinations of the self. Each track is a character vignette that represents McMahon, his turbulent past and masculine identity; from the fallen surf hero of psych-pop “Miki Dora” to the rock bent “Blue Rose” about his father. McMahon tackles his mother’s recent death on “Believe,” a song of propulsive percussion upon which he warbles lyrics like “you said you lived out on the wrong side, you said that’s half the fun.”
Although each song charters new sonic territory, McMahon houses them under his distinct style and unwavering quest to answer the life-long question: why am I? With Freedom, McMahon delivers an answer of the musical proportions we dreamed, and now know, he is capable of.