With every record, Damon McMahon aka Amen Dunes has transformed, and Freedom is the project’s boldest leap yet.
Love took two years to make. Freedom took three. McMahon brought in a powerful set of collaborators and old friends, including Parker Kindred (Antony & The Johnsons, Jeff Buckley) on drums, Chris Coady (Beach House) as producer and Delicate Steve on guitars. This is the first Amen Dunes record that looks back to the electronic influences of McMahon’s youth with the aid of revered underground musician Panoram from Rome. The bulk of the songs were recorded at the famed Electric Lady Studios in NYC (home of Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, D’Angelo), and finished at the similarly legendary Sunset Sound in L.A., where McMahon, Nick Zinner, and session bass player extraordinaire Gus Seyffert (Beck, Bedouine) fleshed out the recordings. On the surface, Freedom is a reflection on growing up, childhood friends who ended up in prison or worse, male identity, McMahon’s father, and his mother, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of recording. The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it’s a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable; a true NYC street record.