by Jamie Robash
photo by Michael Schmelling
Amen Dunes, the brainchild/moniker of Damon McMahon, is an amoeba project that in its earliest manifestations consisted of a handful of impromptu bedroom recordings, beginning with Murder Dull Mind. The batch of songs could be characterized as mildly folky at heart, but could also turn spatial without warning and transform into cosmic echelons of deep experimentation. Later McMahon would change gears and add more focus to his music, resulting in the more linear landscapes of breathy folkish-pop that inhabit 2014’s Love. His latest record, 2018’s Freedom, is his most personal and marks his boldest leap as an artist to date. At times brutal and heartbreaking but never self-serving, it serves in a sense as an autobiography of McMahon in which he threads tales of his life. Yet what makes the record so richly textured and undeniably good is the music itself, which — in true Amen Dunes fashion — remains as upbeat and experimental as always.