From the Australian Goldfields region of Victoria comes the vibrant, ambitious pop music of D.D Dumbo. Under this unusual moniker, multi-instrumentalist Oliver Hugh Perry made waves in 2013 with the release of Tropical Oceans, a beguiling and progressive EP that quickly landed him support slots alongside other pop auteurs like St. Vincent, Tune-Yards, and Tame Impala. A deal with 4AD followed and the then-Melbourne-based artist decamped back to his hometown of Castlemaine to record his debut, Utopia Defeated, in a spartan one-room shed. A pastiche of polyrhythmic percussion and deftly manipulated 12-string guitar, Perry's music dances a neat line between the radiant and the jarring, often pairing horrific lyrical imagery with brightly hued art-pop arrangements. Between the vivid interlocking riffs and spirited vocal delivery of opener "Walrus" are subversively dark lyrics railing against the brutality of raising ducks to produce foie gras. Lead single "Satan" creates a thrilling, impressionistic world of UFO's, eternal darkness, and a zombie mountain set against a backdrop of percolating hand drums, shimmering guitar, bass clarinet, Mellotron, and the occasional blood-curdling shriek. As a musician, Perry draws from a panoply of influences, from droning Tuvan textures to Saharan desert blues to David Byrne-esque art rock. As a lyricist, his personal beliefs steer the ship toward matters of animal rights and ecological concerns, revealing a strong moral compass with tendencies occasionally leaning toward the abstract. "Alihukwe," another standout, describes clawless crabs "in a boiling pot of water" and frogs "biting at my feet in a lonesome public sauna" while he innovates wild, melodic guitar lines over lush sitar sample backdrops. While not all of Utopia Defeated's tracks are as immediately engaging as the aforementioned highlights, Perry introduces a unique vision and his impressive debut is well worth the time it takes to let it decant.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger