On the scene in 2013 with E.P. Tropical Oceans and on the coveted SXSW stage the same year, D.D Dumbo has shot into the circuit supporting artists like Tune-Yards, St Vincent, Jungle, Iron & Wine and toured with Tame Impala and Daughter in 2014. Upon first listen his sound is similar to Tame Impala and Toro y Moi- atmospheric and immersive with pop beats. But D.D Dumbo puts more at stake with vocals- in fact the whole album puts more at stake. The beauty of a first album from a rising artist is that they put it all on the line. Utopia Defeated strikes like lightning and stays hot the whole way down the tracklist.
The first song “Walrus” careens in with psychedelic reverberations, nostalgic 70s guitar and a pop beat starting the energy off high. The next track “Satan” also showcases D.D Dumbo aka Oliver Perry’s talent for a driving beat that permeates the entire album. The pounding heartbeat of a runner comes to mind as it knocks in your chest.
The synesthetic visuals elicited in Utopia Defeated continue with the misty morning track “In the Water.” Think of a soundscape fantasy for a big white wooden house next to a pond with cattails in the breaking hours of dawn. Perry’s voice intensifies the serene scene and incorporates more compelling rhythms.
Perry slides into many moods and tones as the album winds through. “Cortisol” features hypnotic echoes and meditative rhythm loops, “Alihukwe” booms with big drums and a playful energy, and “King Franco Picasso” has determinedly plodding beats and catalyzes a more contemplative and jazzy tone for the rest of the tracklist. He emotes a tangible angst and draws the listener into the narrative.
“The Day I First Found God” is a bit slower and softer sound and “Toxic City” has a little more of a blues-y Norah Jones feel. Different types of instruments lead each song and the sound never gets stale. “Brother” utilizes sound distortion and “Oyster,” a true knockout on the album, uses autoharp and musical tension to produce a kind of holiness.
What hits the hardest in this album is the unstoppable rhythm and the honest, aching voice. Talking about the album Perry revealed, “Intuitively I’m aiming for a meditative, trance-like escapism. I guess that’s everyone’s primordial desire in relationship to music. That’s the most enjoyable part.” Perry not only crafts a magical landscape with his music, but he can hypnotize anyone that wants to fall down the rabbit hole.
review by Callie Hitchcock