Huichica 2015 Artist Spotlight: Amen Dunes

Graham LeBron
03 11, 2015

Amen Dunes is this one dude, Damon Mcmahon. He’s been making his own records, traveling, and touring for the past decade as he continues to refine his languid, psychedelic folk rock. His last album, Love, took his intimate, home recorded sound further into more sprawling arrangements. Some things didn’t change. His emotive voice and personal lyrics still remain a focal point even when they are smeared by reverb and surrounded by the carefully considered instrumentation. The murky guitars and subtle percussive elements remain as well.  It’s like looking at an old picture and liking it better than the newer Photoshopped version. It is devotional and trance inducing, but still has an immediacy -- the vocal and main instruments were all recorded in a few takes with the overdubs and mixing occurring at a more glacial pace afterwards.  It took a year and a half, many musicians, and several studios to finish the thing, which makes sense given his intent for it.“I had this idea of imagining what a songwriter record would sound like if it was backed by Pharoah Sanders.” Specifically, he was interested in the production style of Pharaoh Sanders’ 1969 opus of an album, Karma, which essentially contains one 33 minute long track. I can see what he means. The rhythms vary from Sanders' jazz stylings, but the tone and feel is achieved -- it is just a little blurred, a little in the distance, without being overly reverbed out, as many “indie rockers” are wont to do in these last two decades of computer aided recording. When stripped away of ornamentation, his voice hints at the emotional vulnerability of James Taylor. I also hear some of the the same “pain in song” of Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent. There’s a heaviness to the ambience surrounding these songs. I believe this guy. I think this might be one of those “grower” records. I know it is for me.I’ll be interested to see what format he appears in for his Huichica festival appearance. It appears he’s capable and comfortable playing an intimate acoustic type of set:

As well as a more rocking band set:

Perhaps a happy hybrid of the two? I'm sure whatever he comes up with will be moving.

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