I didn’t know anything about Sacred Bones Records until I heard “Lower Mind” from Amen Dunes’ 2011 bedroom folk masterpiece Through Donkey Jaw.  Yeah, I’m calling it a masterpiece.  Damon McMahon could make sublime psychedelic folk music in his apartment closet if he so desired, turning a tight, claustrophobic space into his own Abbey Road Studios, tinkering with guitar effects and ambient noise.

In the same way that Scott Hansen brought in a full band for his latest Tycho record, McMahon has decided to make his new album a more collaborative affair.  Had I heard that news prior to seeing his list of contributors, I would have been very skeptical of that choice, but he’s brought along Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Colin Stetson and more.

And “Lonely Richard” is still classic Amen Dunes.  It sounds like an early Velvet Underground demo, but with McMahon’s instantly recognizable voice.  I think this will be a huge album for Amen Dunes, and can’t wait to hear the rest.

If you haven’t purchased a record from Sacred Bones, cough up the $20 for the wax-sealed deluxe version.  Sacred Bones’ limited goods are nothing short of works of art.

The Details

Limited edition of 250 hand-numbered clear vinyl copies in deluxe packaging, with letter-pressed wrap-around sleeve, inspirational photo, wax-sealed, available by mail order only. ONE PER PERSON LIMIT.

While the previous Amen Dunes records have all been largely improvisational first-take affairs, recorded in a matter of weeks at most, the forthcoming full-length Love is the product of close to a year and a half of continuous work by Damon McMahon. Unlike McMahon’s earlier Amen Dunes recordings, which were almost always a solo affair, the music on Love was performed by a variety of musicians, including his longtime collaborators Jordi Wheeler on guitar and piano, and Parker Kindred on drums.

McMahon chose to hold the main recording sessions for Love in Montreal with Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In addition to recording the sessions that McMahon produced, members of Godspeed also played on several of the songs. So did saxophonist Colin Stetson and Elias Bender-Ronnenfelt of Iceage, who duets with McMahon on two tracks.

This project has always seen McMahon guided by traditional song and sound, but Love is the first work in which this clearly shines through. The result is definitively the most substantial Amen Dunes record to date. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory, as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open, and beautiful.

Price $20

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