Hailing from Caen in France, quintet The Dustman Dilemma blend mellow organ toned synth, sax honks, and sweet woodwind sounds with twangy guitar, bubbling bass, and octopus-armed drumming. The result is an appealing kind of psych jazz rock which becomes a little more unsettling as their debut LP ‘First Trip To The Roaring Plains’ progresses.
Opener ‘First Dive Into The Roaring Plains‘ comes like Gong playing a mock fanfare as you enter a haunted house. Things drift apart rapidly, elements separating, but then the drums gain momentum and we’re suddenly hurled headlong into something a much more driving, frenetic and funky. The track finishes with the kind of noodly little nod-and-a-wink which you know by now you’ve every right to expect. If you’re still happy at this point (and you should be) then you’re going to enjoy ‘First Trip To The Roaring Plains’.
‘Breathless Dancing Hammers’ drum-thunder intro evolves into something that sounds not unlike Cry Baby era Ungdomskulen with added jazz sax, and a dash of mariachi. The lines of guitar, saxophone, and organ spar and interweave and the whole thing builds to a floppy foot-slapping Max Fleischer-esque climax.
‘Encounter With Solitude’ is a waltz for marimba which gives us our first dose of group’s multi-part full-toned, Franco-Zappa vocal stylings. It’s a good deal more straightforward than all that’s gone before but nonetheless does plenty to keep things interesting.
Then comes the wilfully kooky ‘Discovery Of The Wandering Clouds People’. Four and a half minutes of amp knocking, reed-buzzing, string-scraping, and sparse, floaty ambience are followed by another four minutes of smart-arse, you-think-we’re-going-to-do-this-but-then-we-do-that, before the band come to a consensus. The clumping melody which unravels is accompanied by some gravelly, baritone narration, showing perhaps just a little too much Patton influence.
The group come back strong with ‘Where You’ve Always Been Living’, a sinister theme for a chase through labyrinthine structures and impossibly huge open spaces.
‘Glance Behind’ begins as what seems like it’s going to be a wonderfully mellow conclusion to the record; ideal as the credits roll before us and the sun rises once again. More than a mere outro, however, the track serves as a kind of epilogue with powerful, driving midsection and vocal-led finale which is delivered like a cautionary, yet knowing, jazz sermon.
All in all ‘First Trip To The Roaring Plains’ is a strong debut from The Dustman Dilemma whose musicianship and song writing talents are demonstrably impressive. It’s not a heavy record by any stretch of the imagination, and neither is it some kind of Mr. Bungle musical schizophrenic smorgasbord of genres and influences. ‘First Trip…’ is a solid psych jazz rock album which retains a smoothness of style and sound throughout – there are really no rough edges on this thing, even when the group are doing their damndest to go full-on freak-out. ‘First Trip…’ is definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste but if do you take pleasure in the jazzier side of Gong, maybe even have a bit of Acoustic Ladyland tucked away behind that Electric Wizard vinyl, it’s an album you’ll enjoy. Nice.
Scribed by: John Reppion