In 2006, during the Northeast’s creepiest and most beautiful time of year–fall–Damon McMahon started recording his tightly knotted, introspective guitar melodies in the Catskills, never intending them for public consumption. Thus Amen Dunes was born, and thus–essentially–it remains: the music is simple, lonesome and woodsy, with a healthy dose of the otherworldly-creepy sensation you get from spending a lot of time alone with the Hudson Valley’s sinisterly beautiful landscape.
“Lonely Richard,” off the forthcoming album Love (out 5/13 on Sacred Bones) illustrates McMahon’s penchant for interiority–his voice, small-sounding and thick with melancholy, takes a back seat to the guitars, which screech and whine and slide all over this track. There’s a folky simplicity at the heart of it, but much more immediate is the drone of the instrumentals–how the guitar lines repeat and loop over themselves, how the strings maintain such a constant pitch that they lose form by the end of the song, assuming an atmospheric presence that evokes wind, or clouds, or something else just as environmental. The track builds low and slow, then fades away just as subtly. It’s sort of an anti-social number, but the simple chord structure underlying it keeps “Lonely Richard” from being unfriendly.
In typical fashion, Amen Dunes have released a single that reveals practically nothing about the album to come–the track wouldn’t be gripping enough to save a lethargic album or to temper an overly sweet one, but by itself, “Lonely Richard” has a deceptively compelling low-grade catchiness that will, if nothing else, awaken your curiosity. Wet your whistle with “Lonely Richard,” via Soundcloud: