1988 – Damo (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

There is no denying that we live in a world of polar opposites, of entrenched beliefs, of conflicting ideas and clear points of demarcation. It is an attitude which affects, or perhaps infects, every aspect of life from which football team you support to which political camp you fall into. Thankfully, music seems to have moved on from such strict battle lines and embraced what can best be described as a post-genre attitude. There was a time when musical tribes roamed the streets, where people wore their musical allegiances not just as patches on the sleeves of their denim jackets but etched in ink on to their own skin. But we have largely moved on from such restrictive behaviour, at least the people who make the most interesting music have. Damo is one such person.

To say that 1988 is a collection of dance tracks is like saying that a plate of Sea bass with prawn tortellini, fennel purée and white wine sauce makes for a nice snack. The term dance music might paint a rough outline of what is to be found within this album, but as always, the devil is in the detail. It should also be noted that they say that the devil has all the best tunes. 1988 is music where both of these sayings collide.

Essentially a collection of instrumental tracks, occasionally punctuated by spoken word samples, often garnered from well-known film sources, as always with the most interesting music, it isn’t just the end result which is the compelling factor but the musical weaves and sonic blends which get us there.

Opening salvo, the tantalisingly named The Albeit Horizon, sets the scene perfectly.  A collection of western beats and trippy percussion layered with an oriental infused, chiming harp and futuristic electronica. All of which is eventually subsumed under a tsunami of incendiary rock guitar. That is a lot of ground to cover, a lot of genres to hop, a lot of sonics to splice in just one song, but it does give you an idea of just how textually rich an album you are encountering here.

See You Out There is a shimmering shower of synth, On My Way is a mix of tumbling beats and angular electronica and Free Fray takes these elements and pushes them to some interesting limits, testing boundaries and pulsing with frenetic energy.

What is even more interesting than the music, good as it is, is the attitude. Here is an artist who wilfully ignores the rules, if he is even aware of them in the first place, and goes his own way. Rock guitars in dance music? Fine. 80’s synth nostalgia cocooned in cutting-edge club culture? Why Not? Ambient soundscapes wrapped around off-kilter beats? Well, it keeps things interesting doesn’t it? And even beyond such an adventurous spirit is the feeling that it all comes so naturally to him, that this isn’t someone trying to prove a point or showboat this skills, this is just what pours effortlessly, maybe even unbidden,  out of his mind, and most likely his soul.

I guess being musically smart and creatively broad-minded is just built into some peoples DNA!

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