Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Blue Rose" by Amen Dunes

I am unexpectedly captured by this hypnotizing new song, "Blue Rose" from Amen Dunes (the nom de musique of musician Damon McMahon) from his forthcoming fifth album, "Freedom" released March 30.

McMahon says the song is a "teenage clarion call," about "growing up with an unpredictable father, fighting back with music, drugs and fantasy, and eventual escape from it all." I love how it does not have a traditional verse-chorus structure but seems more like a sung story, a tone poem.

His official website describes the album as a whole:
"On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording.

The characters that populate the musical world of Freedom are a colourful mix of reality and fantasy: father and mother, Amen Dunes, teenage glue addicts and Parisian drug dealers, ghosts above the plains, fallen surf heroes, vampires, thugs from Naples and thugs from Houston, the emperor of Rome, Jews, Jesus, Tashtego, Perseus, even McMahon himself. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.

Yet, if anything, these 11 songs are a relinquishing of all of them through exposition; a gradual reorientation of being away from the acquired definitions of self we all cling to and towards something closer to what's stated in the Agnes Martin quote that opens the record, “I don’t have any ideas myself; I have a vacant mind” and in the swirling, pitched down utterances of “That's all not me” that close it.

The music, as a response or even a solution to the album's darker themes, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable; a true NYC street record."

I've got money because I work all day
Don't get down a mile away
When evening comes
I go call up the band

We play religious music
Don't think you'd understand, man
Well hear me call
I was ignorant

I'm the baddest, stoniest thing in town
Give me eighteen days
They speak another tongue
Well they left me there
But the dead man had no fun

Should stop my father
Yeah love came over me
If you love war
Then you've got war with me

They looked at me straight
And told me I'm in town
Now, now
Feel good son

Deep deep down
You'd stick around
For love
Son, I need you back now

Feel my god
I can hardly change
If you don't have that
You told me not to brag

But I said he gave me
He left me there
Fill me up when I'm down

Dear, he loved my father
Yeah love came over me
Dear, if you want war
Then you've got war in me

Well, I was brought up
And we were told things
Never to tell
Beat up, beaten down, stop
They don't know kid coming down
But I have no way out of heaven

Not now, not now

They said that I should move on from here
Combed out my hair and started out
And my dreams took half a drag
Yeah I can't catch a break

Said you weren't much a man to me
But you're the only one I've ever had

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