When I heard My Dearest Darling for the first time my initial reaction was, “wait, what just happened?” My second thought, after suppressing the acid flashbacks was, “that’s some trippy shit.” And my third impulse was to contact them about doing a feature in The Ampeater Review.
My Dearest Darling certainly is some trippy shit, but not in a clichéd “oh my god I just swallowed so many magic mushrooms” way… insofar as it’s reasonable to believe that any band hailing from Burlington Vermont could not have been inspired, at least to some extent, by tripping balls. This band is surprisingly articulate and I cant shake the sensation that some deep seeded truth lies at the core of the cacophony. For someone who generally prefers a subtlety in music, I find myself unusually taken by My Dearest Darling, whose over-saturated sound mirrors so beautifully the chaotic bustle of the human mind.
My Dearest Darling began a few years back when keyboardist/vocalist D. Munzing wrote a ‘suite’ of experimental pop songs on a beat up piano deep within the Vermont Woods. Eventually Munzing emerged from the woods to share his music with guitarist M. Hagan and bassist T. Gevry, both former members of the Burlington-based Lendaway, and drummer C. Mathieu, with whom Munzing had previously played alongside in the band Tell No One. Within a few months Munzing’s songs had been transformed into space age psychedelic pop hits and the group had coalesced into My Dearest Darling. A slew of shows in Vermont and NYC opening for bands such as White Rabbits and The Fiery Furnaces earned My Dearest Darling a small following and before long they were hard at work on their first album. The LP, self titled, was recorded over the span of several months in basements, multiple studios, and ultimately in Munzing’s bedroom. Munzing explains that “even though finishing the record myself took longer than I anticipated, recording on my own allowed me to experiment without any time or financial restrictions and I was able to get closer to the sound I was looking for.” The product of these sessions was finally released in December of 2009 and can be downloaded at www.mydearestdarling.com. Keyboardist Z. Gunderson has joined the band to “take over synth duties for live shows” and My Dearest Darling is plotting to take the North East by storm in the Spring of 2010.
My Dearest Darling is theatrical in a way reminiscent of Radiohead or Muse. A-Side “The Perfect Vice” is a dizzying vortex of a song. An 88-key piano roll grabs your attention from the get-go and pulls you into a haze of warbling synths and frenzied drums. A relentlessly fast 6/8 feel pulses throughout the song from start to finish, meshing astonishingly well with Munzing’s slow but determined vocals which float stoically over the chaos. His voice is appropriately breathy on the lows but on the high notes takes on a sense of apocalyptic urgency. The song’s got enough hooks within its verse/chorus structure to keep the listener captivated for its longevity. Nevertheless, the breakdown at about 2:45 provides refreshing respite from the unkempt chaos and gives each instrument a little time to shine. First the drums get their moment, blasting their way through a few residual piano notes with a tribal tom-tom beat. One by one, the band jumps back in. Gevry’s ascending bass line, which anchors the song down, floats to the front of the mix before a syncopated piano riff is layered on top of it. Synths and guitars follow en suite and, at last, the chorus.
B-Side “Decay” is more ethereal, lacking the in-your-face frenzy of “The Perfect Vice.” As Munzing comically phrases it, “its a slow burner but rewarding assuming the listener has the patience to not hit ‘next’ even after the song is interrupted on their iPhone by their mom asking, ‘do you have enough sweaters for winter this year?’“ Actually, my first listen was interrupted not by my mother but by my computer, beeping to warn me that my battery level was critically low. Obediently, I powered down, but as soon as I found an outlet, I was ready for another listen. In a strange way “Decay” was already stuck in my head and yet I couldn’t even me remember how it went. All I knew as that I had to hear the rest of the song. I returned to it with an an acute sense of of déjá vu or, better yet, déjá écouté, but with no conscious memory of what I was hearing. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that “Decay” is not a catchy song by any stretch of the imagination but it’s completely immersive. Arpeggiating synthesizers cascade through each ear evoking vintage Pink Floyd. A tension pervades throughout the song, even in the softest sections.. Sure it’s chill but that’s is not due to a lack of energy but stems from a suppressed energy t hat is constantly on the verge of bursting free. And in the guitar solo, it finally does. “Decay” ends on the high note of the guitar solo and fizzles away, like an exploding supernova dissipating into space.
The Perfect Vice
https://ampeater.s3.amazonaws.com/aem053/01 The Perfect Vice.mp3