Just about any musician can pen a song about the lifecycle of an aquatic organism, but how many can sing it with the conviction of someone who’s lived it? There’s a deft spark of inspiration which holds D.D Dumbo together. It’s neither complex nor arcane; in all truth it’s a time-worn recipe. Oliver Hugh Perry's core strength sits with taking unconventional ideas and weaving them into a warmly inviting sound.
It’s probably a tired comparison, but undeniably there’s a touch of David Byrne to debut album Utopia Defeated. Whether it’s in Perry’s off kilter phrasing and twitchy inflection, surrealistic lyrical vignettes or the pan-cultural dance-funk grooves à la Byrne/Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, the Victorian native taps into one of the quirkier trajectories of popular music. Yet this is also where he pushes off. Enveloping his music with emotive impulse and wayward individuality, this cerebral artist spins some truly otherworldly songs.
Following on from a sell-out show at The Triffid the night before, Perry appears in fine form for his Sunday set. Given the elaborate layering and exotic instrumentation of D.D Dumbo’s material it’s easy to imagine these imaginative pop visions delivered by a solitary figure glacially hunched over a towering bank of equipment. Yet live Perry opts to expand the project to a formidable four piece. Even with these three additional multi-instrumentalists on hand there’s still a dazzling array of musical devices juggled between songs.
Brassy bursts of saxophone and percussive undercurrents sketch out Perry’s finely crafted recordings in faithfully compact pop form. If there’s any fault it’s only that the slick dance rhythms of many of these songs are practically begging for an extension past the radio friendly three minute mark. Regardless the thundering ‘Tropical Oceans’ provides the night’s transcendent moment. Despite having a few extra hands on deck live, Perry remains a charismatic musical focus, supplying melismatic vocal leaps and hook laden-fretwork. The song hits home with infectious and mellowing effect.
‘Walrus’ closes things out with an inescapably low-slung groove. The crowd ripples with a newfound energy, an immediate reaction to its instantly recognisable riff and percussive funk edge. It’s here that the group take a modern dance sound and sharpen it to perfection.
Reviewer - Riley Fitzgerald
Photographer - Christian Nimri