Amen Dunes

Freedom (Sacred Bones)

Contact Jessica Linker and Stephanie Bauman about Amen Dunes

Amen Dunes (aka the project of New York-based Damon McMahon) will release his fifth album, Freedom, on March 30th via Sacred Bones. Throughout his career, Amen Dunes has transformed continuously, and Freedom, the follow-up to 2014’s Love, “an intimate work of mystery” (Pitchfork) is the project’s boldest leap yet.

 

In creating Freedom, McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends. Along with core band members, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, came Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer, and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome, who finds his place as a significant, if subtle, contributor to the record. The bulk of the songs were recorded at Electric Lady in New York, and finished at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player Gus Seyffert (BeckBedouine) fleshed out the recordings.

 

On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording. The characters that populate the musical world of the album are a colorful mix of reality and fantasy. Each character portrait is a representation of McMahon, of masculinity, and of his past.

 

Yet, if anything, these 11 songs are a relinquishing of all of them through exposition; a gradual reorientation of being away from the acquired definitions of self we all cling to and towards something closer to what’s stated in the Agnes Martin quote that opens the record, “I don’t have any ideas myself; I have a vacant mind” and in the swirling, pitched down utterances of “That’s all not me” that close it.

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