New Music | Friday Roll Out: Damu The Fudgemunk, SUUNS, Meatbodies, DANA

DANA, that noise fuckery out of Columbus, Ohio decided to release its live recording of Glowing Auras & Black Money (Tape Rip), a recorded set of its record release show back in 2019, and it’s exactly what we all may expect. The band’s brand of experimental punk translates perfectly in a live setting, tearing through 9 tracks of feverish songs that are unrelenting. DANA doesn’t hold anything back. The dissonance surrounding the band is strengthened by its manic delivery which comes through, especially on “El Sicko.” The four members perform as one, with electrified prowess. It’s a great introduction to the group for the uninitiated and a definite must-have for rabid fans.

Sitting, listening to the latest effort by SUUNS, out of Montreal Québec is pretty alluring, as the trio of musicians draw on a variety of sound throughout The Witness (Joyful Noise Recordings). The band defies classification, and although its electronic presence is felt, the organic instrumentation steers it clearly away from solely one constructed genre. The music created by the trio drifts in and out, riding crescent waves of electronic sounds but there’s reason beyond the madness as the music is embellished by the group’s subtle fury. Songs wind & turn with subdued nuance but when SUUNS becomes explosive, like on “C-Thru,” it’s a dramatic shift. Honing its skill for over a decade, we are all here to testify to The Witness.  

The world hasn’t been dismissive, it just takes some a little bit longer than others to catch up greatness, and sometimes, genius. It’s happened often; we’ve witnessed artists who have created magnificent opuses only to be disregarded & ignored. Fortunately, they resist and persist in the quest for something greater than themselves; a journey into the unknown that may prove fruitful, in their creativity. Last year saw the release of Ocean Bridges, the collaboration between Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Earl Davis, known to everyone as Damu The Fudgemunk. The album was a dense and expansive release that juxtaposed jazz against Hip-Hop, melding the two together at times. It was fantastic. Raw Poetic was the sole lyricist, playing against Shepp’s horns & piano. Damu, a multi-instrumentalist added drums, vibraphone, turntable scratching, backing vocals, and production. While there were others who contributed to the release, it was about these three and the release only touched on Damu’s own inventiveness. His own lengthy discography of over a decade’s worth of material has set the tone for 2021.

With Damu The Fudgemunk’s new Conversation Peace (Def Pressé), we get a new look at what the artist is capable of. This is the first release in the KPM Crate Diggers series where artists are invited to dive in and choose samples that KPM has allowed others to, and this time Damu dives in. Deep. There are moments throughout the release, listeners will find themselves getting lost throughout as the atmospheric sounds, compounded with additional drums, rhythms, and instruments, allow the rhymes to take a life of their own. The album showcases artists Damu has worked with in the past, and if it isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix anything! The opening “Power Of the Mind” features cohort Raw Poetic, riding a wave of sonic bliss, with a lyrical dexterity many need to follow and learn from. His words over the music, belong with one another. Anything different just wouldn’t make sense. But it’s “Reporting” that’s entrancing, as Damu, a well-versed vocalist himself grabs the microphone, rhyming over his blended concoction. The easy musical flow is almost anthemic with Damu’s poetic & gritty lyricism. There’s so much to ingest throughout Conversation Peace, a heady release with so much to offer.

Damu collaborates with Boston emcee Insight, aka Insight Innovates, on “Enchanted Spirits” evoking classicisms to Golden Age Hip-Hop days, thick drumbeats, and circulating horns & strings, along with haunting Kaiju-like tones. But it’s the grandiose sound of “God Speed” where rapper Blu lifts spirits, raises others as Damu takes this otherworldly track on an interdimensional journey. This is literally the moment man rediscovers fire; this one burns bright. Nitty Scott takes a turn at the mic on “Four Better or Worse (Pt. 1),” with wind instruments as horns fill the background, along with xylophone lingering throughout. Scott only appears on the track for less than a minute but it’s effective as Damu rides the track out.   

There’s an unadulterated amount of material that still needs everyone’s attention on the album, but no one will be able to simply hit the ‘stop’ button on Conversation Peace. The tracks are sequenced perfectly, the beats and samples handled meticulously, and the rhymes, well, they’re poignant and masterful. With this release, 2021is the year of The Fudgemunk.  

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Problems arise within music today and well, some artists don’t get right to the point, and that becomes an issue at times if song intros drag on. Luckily there are a few that do get right to it and everyone is the better for it. Enter: Meatbodies. This is the group that first began as a solo project for Chad Ubovich, releasing a self-titled debut full-length back in 2014. Sure his resumé touts notable artists like Mike Cronin and Ty Segall but this is about Meatbodies. The group has released its third album 333 (In The Red Records) and there is truth to the stories. It rock with the fervor and flames of a thousand stars. While Ubovich has been open about utilizing the album as therapeutic, detailing his own drug use to sobriety, it takes nothing away from the urging vitality littered throughout 333.

From the opening of “Reach For The Sunn,” fuzzed-out washes of guitar ravage the track from beginning to end. For over a minute, it’s hypnotizing, solely as guitar riffs repeat and Ubovich sings, seemingly losing his grip of reality but reaching for something much more. Guitars are added into the mix, as are thunderous drums to lull us all into submission. It works. And while “Let’s Go (333)” changes things up, eschewing walls of effects for something much cleaner, it takes nothing away from the psychedelia surrounding the band, but it’s haunting as it closes into a maniacal schizophrenic vocal display. Voices are looped on top of one another and if anyone questions what insanity is, all they would need to do is listen to this. What’s most interesting is Meatbodies’ use of repetition; songs chatter along with repeating guitar riffs but it isn’t over-indulgence and doesn’t become repetitious. On the contrary, the band’s fuzzed-out theories & song structures are more than welcome. “Cancer,” takes planet-sized intergalactic leaps with fuzzed-out power chords, while “Eye Eraser” moves like a dirty Kevin Shields composition – sans vocals – in the best of ways.

With 333, Meatbodies may be taking us places we’ve been before, but it’s from a perspective never viewed from. The band gets to it; fuzzed-out washes of guitars at points and at others, the group captivates with lilting harmonies & sweet melodies as songs are sometimes trance-inducing. I think I’ve seen the future, and it’s Meatbodies through and through.

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