Damascvs might be the ultimate anti-internet artist. In an age where musicians often either blast fans with reams of data (essentially turning their feeds into streams of memes) or employ empty, over-the-top pseudo-anonymity, DamDam sits somewhere outside of this binary. Yes, you can find information on him, but not much. He doesn’t really do interviews, but does contribute to the Quit Safari podcast with Christian Tiger School. His releases are often prompted with little more than a name and cover art and nothing much more, but there is feeling that he should somehow be more popular. A lot of his music exists with little context besides his previous music (as we’ve noted before), which contrasts with the now-standard-practice of having previews of previews of demos of singles before releasing anything.
His work – primarily Brainfeeder-style, rap-inspired beat production – also eschews many of the tropes of music made in the modern era of technology. It has a warmth knowingly indebted to the sound of tape and vinyl. Its constituent parts – often sampled loops, booming drums with skittering additional percussion and synth solos – work together, but often just barely so. His songs move like homemade Rube Goldberg machines not unlike those made popular by the Home Alone series. Everything is a loose fit time-wise – the parts are showing and unpolished, but it’s all put together to give maximum impact. It’s all very organic, and has always sounded as such – ambitious sketches with handmade percussion and big ideas.
What he’s added to his musical repertoire in recent releases is a further sense of purpose: a more clear crystallisation of his ideas than what we saw of 2012’s The Let Down Part (and to a lesser extent 2014’s Rigour) and the results are awe-inspiring at their best. ‘Sogan Brashni’, the project’s single, is an absolute powerhouse and Dam’s most anthemic song to date. The base (and bass) of the song is it’s thunderingly-produced drums, with disembodied vocal chants hovering above them sounding something like a tribal alarm. ‘Papaya’ doubles down on the intensity, but replaces the menace with triumphant jubilation, deploying production that jettisons Dipset-era Heatmakerz production directly into the L.A beat scene.
Vocals are another newly-prominent part of Damascus’ music, and they’re featured in one way or another over the project. The Jonn-featuring neo cloud-rap of ‘2 JEEPS’ stands as welcome injection of personality in the middle of the sometimes distant project, where the vocal parts are pitched and run through various effects to be used as additional layers. Damascus’ production often features a central loop at its nucleus, with additional instrumentation encircling it. This gives the arrangements a sense of stasis as opposed to forward progression, which works well when the ideas are succinct time wise or varied enough to keep interest. This exposes some flaws in this projects armour, though often songs pivot right before (or slightly after) they tire, and veer into new directions. The guitar ballad that ends this project is an unexpected yet welcomed twist – moving us away from chopped loops and synths at the album’s conclusion.
This is arguably Damascvs’ best work to date, and looking forward it feels as if he’s on the edge of a real stylistic breakthrough.