D.D DUMBO - aka 28-year old Oliver Perry – lives in a room attached to an old horse stables on the outskirts of the small city Castlemaine, one and a half hours north of Melbourne. "The building is owned by a couple who keep their garden tools in it," says Perry. "But there's one room that's insulated and semi-functional." The space also doubles as Perry's studio. "There's definitely some hermit vibes," he says of the solitary set-up.
That D.D Dumbo's fantastical debut album, Utopia Defeated, can be traced to a single, spartan room, seems especially perverse. Across ten songs, Utopia Defeated conjures a vivid, wide-eyed musical landscape teeming with nervous energy and exotic evocations of the world at large. Backed by skittering percussion, the signature elastic bounce of Perry's 12-string guitar, and a fanciful quiver of obtuse sounds, Utopia Defeated hinges on Perry's expressive voice, and the dissonance of an artist compelled to question his position in the natural world.
The resulting sonic universe is a collision of blues licks, echoes of world music, strident '80s pop, the kinetic energy of dance music, and splashes of outsider art akin to Captain Beefheart, one of D.D Dumbo's touchstones.
D.D Dumbo's output stretches back to 2013, when he released his self-recorded debut EP, Tropical Oceans. Led by the spooky strut of the title-track, the lo-fi four song-set of blues-laced, deconstructed pop, announced Perry as an exciting newcomer fluent in a language all his own.
People took notice. Performing solo with a 12-string electric guitar, two drums and a bunch of effect pedals, D.D Dumbo made an impression at the 2013 SXSW Music conference. In the following 12 months he was invited to support the likes of Warpaint, Tune-Yards, St Vincent, Jungle, Iron & Wine, and do live sessions for NPR, Daytrotter and BBC Radio 1.
Working with engineer/producer Fabian Prynn, the musician bunkered down in 4AD's in-house studios underneath the labelǯs London office, and spent "two to three months" crafting Utopia Defeated piece-by-piece from scratch. "There was no loop-pedalling on the album at all," says Perry. "It became a new project in a way."
The strikingly unplaceable nature of Utopia Defeated is the sound of Perry wrestling to make the intangible, tangible. It's illustrative of the doublethink Perry needs to create D.D. Dumbo - long hours of meticulous work, to make some of the most singularly unique, playful, and seductive pop music of recent times.