Test Test Test

Dw Dunphy

Independent release, 2015


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Coming up with suitably evocative names for instrumental tracks is a fine art in and of itself, in addition to being one more on the long list of things Dw Dunphy appears to be good at.

Test Test Test is a true DIY album, featuring veteran indie music-maker Dunphy on keys, guitar and electronically-generated rhythm tracks, and while that doesn’t make for a lot of dynamic interplay between instruments, it allows him to layer sound like a painter layering color, building each track from the canvas up, sometimes crafting rich, multifaceted soundscapes, while other times embracing a sort of airy minimalism. The overall effect Dunphy achieves feels something like a movie soundtrack composed by Alan Parsons: supple melodies residing in intriguing, subtly textured soundscapes, rarely flashy, always engaging.

Opener “That Never Works” indeed has a rather skeptical air about it, featuring a soothing, elastic melody line that repeats, evolves, and repeats again. The winkingly named “Shootout At The Spaghetti Factory (or, Do Breadsticks Come With That, Hombre?)” is everything the title implies, a bold, cinematic number with a keen sense of fun, and one of the clear highlights here. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Next up, “Tsuburaya” opens darks and mysterious, with a hauntingly familiar ascending organ line against big drums and lush synth textures, moving at a stately pace before segueing into the sparse, moody “Polymorph”—which promptly morphs, breaking into a pulsing beat with an ominous feel.

“Two Empty Rooms” might be the strangest bird here, an extended (9:10) piece that opens in orchestral mode with synthesized strings and horns before transitioning into a sort of theatre-of-the-mind interlude in the middle as drums build up the bottom end, full of portent, before jarring sound effects (engines, gunshots) intrude and the track transforms again, into a more melancholy segment that eventually builds into a big, sweeping cinemascope finish. It’s a long, strange trip, but never, ever dull.

The second half finds Dunphy testing out some different “looks” as he tries his hand at airy folk (the brief, pleasant “Hacienda”) and something approaching power metal (the not-brief, rather bombastic “Mr. Burning Suit”), before winding things up with a pair of tracks featuring an almost New Age contemplative feel (“Blue Wire Green Wire” and “The Radial Night”). The former is all gentle strings and hypnotic synth tones until the last minute, when it detours into more foreboding atmospherics. The latter feels like it picks up with the former left off, with acoustic guitar and synths leading the way to a rather solemn, sudden finish.

Dw Dunphy knows how to both set a mood and sustain interest by continually building upon and evolving each melodic idea. Full of drama yet devoid of melodrama, Test Test Test is a soundtrack in search of a film. I’m not entirely sure what sort of film—a rather serious, brightly lit sci-fi drama, perhaps—but it’s just the sort of atmospheric music that leaves the listener curious and hungry for more.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2015 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.