Just who are this trio of blokes? Dumbsaint are a Sydney-based group that combine elements of post-metal, post-rock and progressive music genres. They are unique in that they give equal weighting to the visual aspect of their live performances. Two of the three members are film students, so each song they create will have a visual accompaniment that is usually projected on-stage with the band.
While Dumbsaint have been around and playing in Sydney for a long time, this is their debut album.
So, what of it? Well, let's start off with the production. Simply put, the production is GORGEOUS. I've long been a fan of the production work that Tim Carr does over at Studios 301, but I think this might be the nicest thing I've heard from him. He's done a magnificent job. His incredible ability to capture the vibe of whatever music he is engineering, his work ethic, and his tireless attention to detail really shine through on this album.
The production maxim of the band seems to be a focus on organic, dynamic and natural sounds. Nick's drum sound is the most open I think I've heard. There's just so much room to breathe, and it really lets Nick's outstanding dynamic playing shine through the mix rather.
The guitar and bass tones show a similar merticulous attention to detail and texture. The guitar is crisp, clean and clear when it needs to be, and explodes into a wall of monolithic fat fuzz when tracks peak.
The first track 'Rivers Will Be Crossed' perfectly presents what I love about this band. The song-writing is outstanding. The musicianship of each individual is stellar - and as a trio they really know when to pull-back what they're playing to let other instruments ebb, flow and take the centre point when they need to. The song just continues to builds and weaves beautifully. The structure is just really engaging and very intelligent compiled.
And yet, as I finish listening to the entire album for perhaps the 30th time, I still feel like something is missing to make this an incredible, coherent album. Most of the tracks are great - if not awesome - but occasionally a track or section emerges the reminds me perhaps a little too much of the premordial slime and eggshells Dumbsaint have brought with them from the beginning - the stamp of some of influences perhaps being a little too great in a few select moments.
After speaking to the band I think I can pinpoint why this is. These songs were not written as 'an album'. They are essentially a collection of songs written over the last 8+ years that have happened to be on an album together, and I think the coherent concept of an album suffers as a result of that.
Now, for the mostpart the band really manages to hide this fact from the listener with some very smart song ordering -- but every time I reach the final movement of the final track off the album, I can't help but feel the lack of a final penultimate moment, a clear album closer to end the listening experience coherently. I keep expecting the next song to kick in any second. The last track 'I am an image' really fails to properly bookend the journey, and I'm just left hanging, a little confused as to why the music has stopped coming from my headphones.
Now these criticisms should be taken into context. This album is still incredible. What Dumbsaint have achieved has personally made me very jealous - and I think there should be clear recognition of this. However, that said, I do believe that the bands best compositions are ahead of them. Now that they have a solid, consistent line-up they can focus on constructing new material for the format, rather than having to select an albums worth of songs from a back-catalog amassed over many years.
It is Dumbsaint's mature songwriting, precise, dynamic musicianship, and attention to detail that puts this trio far beyond another cookie-cutter post-rock or post-metal offering. Fans of ISIS, Red Sparrowes, Mogwai, Russian Circles, sleepmakeswaves, Pelican and Tool should love this album. Infact, I would be willing to say that 'Something that you feel will find its own form' might just surpass, say, the latest Russian Circles album.
This is an extremely impressive album and I can't see where these guys take their music next. It has replaced Helm's debut album 'Keehaul... Volume 1' as my favourite Australian release within the style. I foresee a bright future for Dumbsaint, and I would implore you to go and check out their debut album over at Birds Robe Records.