Dungeonesse - Dungeonesse | Album Review | By Volume

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Dungeonesse dungeonesse



Wye Oak who? Dungeonesse is where Jenn Wasner belongs.

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Author: on May 30, 2013
Secretly Canadian
May 14, 2013

Apparently, Jenn Wasner has a huge love for top 40 and R&B – who knew? The Wye Oak frontwoman generally is awash in ethereal keys and acoustic strumming, allowing her full-bodied croon to brood underneath her and Andy Stack’s instrumentation. Her other-other side project, Dungeonesse is a very different animal indeed. On this self-titled debut, she partners up with writer/producer Jon Ehrens to create airy, wide-screen electro-pop, somewhat a balance between a jubilant Blue Hawaii and a less saccharine Grimes. Dungeonesse possesses the same wintry quality as these Canadian peers, yet in the same vein, this music is sizzling enough to melt away any freeze.

Wasner’s voice, curiously enough, is built for this type of music. Her dainty qualities allow her to float amongst Ehrens’ effervescent production, but it is the breadth of her range and the sultriness to her deeper octaves that make Dungeonesse’s music creep into your ears and stick like sweet molasses. Postured against Ehrens’ beats, her vocals are refreshingly similar to late-career Liz Fraser meeting Debbie Harry. “Night Light” in particular, where Wasner reflects both vocalists in her delivery so expertly, makes it difficult to remember this isn’t Debbie fronting Cocteau Twins in their prime. Though to look at Dungeonesse as a knock-off would be a folly; this is organic, unique dance music that is distinctly a product of Ehrens and Wasner.

Even though the project comes off minimalistic at first, most of the record’s gems are found when explored in between headphones. There are no grandiose pitch shifts or fluffy histrionics to be found within Dungeonesse – this is a DIY project at heart, neither opposed to nor inclined to massive airplay. Airplay in the sense of total space – this is not exactly festival music; Dungeonesse reads more friendly to a club atmosphere, somewhere that Ehrens’ DJing can be appreciated and Wasner’s delivery relished in. Dungeonesse isn’t radio-ready EDM and is that much better for it, a personal project built on soulful ambitions with private intentions. Dungeonesse seem like they entered the studio with little more hope than to make a record for themselves, putting their musical guilty-pleasures on full display. That’s maybe why the album is such an open-arms listening experience, easily allowing its audience to fall deep into its pillow-soft melodies and lush soundscapes. From where I’m sitting, they’re desperately worth exploring.

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