Anna Cieslik ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
While multimillion-dollar recording contracts and big name producers are a recipe for success for some musicians, Damon McMahon settled on a drastically different approach when it came to his solo project Amen Dunes. McMahon forwent the extravagancies engulfing so much of modern music and chose instead to boil the process down to its simplest parts. This meant locking himself in a Catskills cabin writing songs for him and himself only.
McMahon never intended to record and release these tracks officially, but a chain of events spanning a few years eventually brought the original Amen Dunes recordings to the public, thus legitimizing the project in a sense and helping it develop into a fully formed band. This extremely organic, prolonged creation story has resulted in a sound unique to Amen Dunes that is one part 60s psychedelia, one part 70s ambient, and one part decidedly modern lo-fi music.
Tracks like “Gem Head” and “Green Eyes” are extremely penetrating, with layered soundscapes that build gradually before ending abruptly. Without much of a cathartic climax, these tracks can be frustrating at times, but it becomes clear upon closer inspection that this is exactly what McMahon is aiming to do. Amen Dunes isn’t your upbeat pop music, nor is it your aggressive rock and roll; it’s thought provoking music that aims to rattle your perception of what music is capable of doing.
With that said, Amen Dunes still has more than a handful of accessible tunes fit for days when you don’t want your music to rattle your perceptions of everything around you. “I Can’t Dig It” is a fast paced, gritty song bound to pump you up. And “White Child” has a simple, sweet sound with an airy quality to it – perfect for hazy summer days.