Review: Kyle Bobby Dunn – In Miserum Stercus
Komino Records – K0M1N0-003 (12” LP & Digital) Time: About 36 Minutes
Tracks: 1) Buncington Revisited; 2) Lake Wapta Rise; 3) In Praise Of Tears; 4) Meadowfuck; 5) The Milksop
A sesquidecade ago, I had a pretty regular gig as a lone passenger in a twin-engine Piper Seneca. I sometimes had work to do as I traveled, but often I was able to sit in the co-pilot seat and put on a closed-ear headset with a microphone and either listen to radio chatter, talk with the pilot or sit silently and look at the scenery. The travels took me over a mountainous wilderness. The pilot was a pretty quiet guy, with a very steady hand in rough weather (and we saw some—snow storms too). I was fortunate to even get a few short flying lessons during the trips, but mostly what I appreciated was the solitude of the vistas, leaving the towns and cities behind.
The views were broad landscapes of largely unpopulated forest areas. Whether I had a headset on or not, focusing on what I was beholding would often silence the noise of the plane’s engines. Every so often I’d get distracted and the sound of the synchronized engines would enter my consciousness. At times the engines would have a slight harmonic pulse, as their RPMs fluctuated in the crosswinds.
Those halcyon memories of soaring above the wilds return when listening to Kyle Bobby Dunn’s latest album (self-deprecatingly titled) In Miserum Stercus. About 5 minutes into Buncington Revisited is one of those points of distraction, and the harmonic of the Twin Sixes enters the picture, and then is gone and the passing landscape and feeling of seclusion returns. KBD has his own distinct sound; it’s often just off in the distance and rarely head-on, but despite this tangential nature there is clarity. And although he sometimes disguises the intent of his work in irony, I feel like there are often lucid memories evoked of places, especially in Lake Wapta Rise*, northwest of Banff, in British Columbia. The landscape there in many ways is like what I saw on my journeys, although even more dramatic. There is an expansive desolation in the restrained and blended sounds of this track, although the tones become purer and stronger, before fading.
Machismo apparently isn’t one of KBD’s distinct musical qualities, and so a layer of his thick outer skin is washed away to reveal some lachrymose tendencies with In Praise Of Tears. Measured, peaceful and resonant waves calm the scene, before leading into the not-so-gently titled Meadowfuck. Oh the irony of Mr. Dunn. Although somewhat hushed, this track seems to be making an announcement with its rolling and distant brass-like atmosphere. It builds, and then dives swiftly into The Milksop, which is staunch and paradoxically titled. Have a listen…
So, buckle-up, enjoy the views and happy flying. Oh, and KBD, don’t be so hard on yourself
* Postscript: I have since been given a geography lesson, on the finer specifics of Calgaric Locus–operative term “Rise”, which just so happens to be one Province east in the plains of Alberta, but I’ll cling to the romantic notion of the mountains.