Amen Dunes is the project of Damon McMahon, whose mix of folk, psychedelia, and atmospherics has drawn comparisons to Roky Erickson, Syd Barrett, Chris Knox, Suicide, and Royal Trux. A Philadelphia native and a former member of Inouk, McMahon issued an album under his own name, Mansions, in 2006. Later that same year he began recording as Amen Dunes, sequestering himself in a cabin in the Catskills and laying down songs that he never intended to release publicly. He moved to Beijing in 2007 and recorded intermittently, honing a dark, acoustic-based sound. In 2009 Locust Music issued his Catskills sessions as DIA, and McMahon returned to the U.S., settling in New York. A full-band version of Amen Dunes toured the States and Europe in 2009 and 2010. Sacred Bones released the Murder Dull Mind EP, a collection of songs from McMahon’s time in China, in 2010, and in January of the next year McMahon began recording Amen Dunes’ second album, Through Donkey Jaw, which was released in August 2011. The following year, Amen Dunes returned with the Ethio Covers 7″, which reworked Ethiopian pop songs. The Spoiler, a limited-edition, vinyl-only collection of pieces from 2009 to 2011, arrived in 2013 via McMahon’s Perfect Lives imprint. The simply named Love, which featured collaborations with Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, Colin Stetson, and members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, was released in 2014.
Malgré le titre de son album, “Love”, Amen Dunes n’est pas un amant facile à conquérir. Si son songwriting évoque des obsessions classiques (Rolling Stones époque Gimme Shelter, Velvet Underground, le timbre de voix dylanien), le rendu est rêche, rapeux et entre dedans. Désormais entouré en studio des membres de Godspeed You Black Emperor et de Colin Stetson, Damon McMahon (aka Amen Dunes) parvient à concilier urgence et radicalité avec une musique dépouillée et terriblement franche.