26 Nov 2016

D.D. Dumbo, Australian avant-pop prodigy

From RNZ Music, 2:30 pm on 26 November 2016

The debut album Utopia Defeated  from Australian artist D.D. Dumbo is highly addictive. Its throbbing, funky basslines, layered psychedelic textures, infectious melodies, and agile tenor voice will have you lurching for the repeat button. Kirsten Johnstone tracked down its creator, Australian Oliver Hugh Perry.

D.D. Dumbo

D.D. Dumbo Photo: supplied

Despite being famous for XXXX Beer, Oliver Perry describes his hometown of Castlemaine, Victoria, Population ~6000, as a liberal left-leaning oasis, and Australia's best town to be a vegan in.

Perry is moving out to the bush though,"Can't handle the town," he tells me, "I'm an easily over-stimulated kinda guy."

The album sounds like it's been made by a well-traveled musician - there's the droning Indian tanpura, desert-blues guitar lines reminiscent of bands like Mali's Tinarawen and a general otherworldliness.

As it turns out though, Perry just has a great record collection. One of his guiding lights is avant-pop pioneer Captain Beefheart. 

"First time I heard his stuff, it was a completely new thing for me, it just blew my mind. You can listen to some of his stuff and instantly think 'oh, it's just novelty, deliberately bizarre and pretentious. But I think there's more to it. It's very colourful and I love the surrealism in his lyrics." 

Perry's own lyrics have a seemingly surrealist quality about them too. Take the words to 'Walrus': "The blood seeps out like the wounds of a walrus / In salty ice in frost and blubber / The birds the sun the bugs that adore you / The endless glory" - it's a brutal picture, inspired by the production of Foie Gras.

Animal rights weigh heavily on Perry's mind, and there are more songs that tackle the subject on the album, as well as 'just the notion of how strange it is to be alive, and the nature of suffering in the universe'.

Related:

  • Utopia Defeated review from Nick Bollinger
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    The musical influences behind Utopia Defeated:

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