D.D Dumbo is Oliver Hugh Perry, an astonishing and highly original songwriter from a small Australian town called Castlemaine, an hour outside the Victorian capital of Melbourne. 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. Soon after D.D Dumbo signed to 4AD, and in 2014 he toured the UK for the first time, supporting both Daughter and Tame Impala. He played Splendour in the Grass in Australia, and returned to Europe for a handful of dates (including a slot at Pitchfork Paris), as well as a debut tour of the US.
He recorded his debut album, Utopia Defeated, in a bunker at 4AD’s London studio over the winter of 2015. 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. 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.
The slinky, mysterious, cinematic music of Midnight Sister is brought to you by the isolating landscape of the San Fernando Valley — its colors, its diners, its lunatics, its neon lights. The duo of Juliana Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, lifelong residents of this storied valley, have only become more inspired by the area’s mythology over the years, it’s two-faced magical wonderland and tragic circus.
Giraffe, 23, daughter of an LA disc jockey, was raised almost exclusively on disco and David Bowie. Her lyrics and lyrical melodies were composed gazing out from a tiny retail window on Sunset Boulevard. Her Rear Window-like longing allowed her imagination to run wild and cook up the wild narratives that would fill Balouzian’s compositions.
Balouzian, 27, classically trained and already a go-to arranger for odd-pop names like Tobias Jesso Jr. and Alex Izenberg, is inspired by the immersive, almost visual language of Stravinsky and Ravel as much as the cinematic jeu d’esprit of Altman’s Brewster McCloud and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love. Their shared musical vision of LA is the ominous alley you must enter to have the speakeasy night of your life.