Band Name: E. Deubner
Album Name: Death is a Vacatation Through Time
Best Element: Solid songwriting
Genre: Dark rock
Label Name: N/a
Band E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m not sure how I first heard of outsider music- but somewhere along the line I became aware that there were musicians who were completely destroying the pop music scheme. Artists like Jandek and Daniel Johnston are two of the most ‘well-known’ of these oddities- prolific musicians who create and release music solely for themselves, with no hope nor ambitions of getting famous.
If E. Deubner continues releasing music at the clip that he has been, he will soon take his place in the canon of outsider music as the out-of-place genius that he shows signs of becoming.
As a cohesive whole, Death is a Vacation Through Time is a great album that easily combines genres as if they didn’t even exist. Whether churning out an industrial backbeat, lightly tapping the keys of a piano, riffing on a heavily distorted guitar or creating eerie, complex soundscapes with myriads of unreleased tension, Deubner shows his songwriting prowess throughout his latest album.
As could be inferred from the title, this album is dark. Heavily distorted guitars of an almost industrial variety and urgent drumming by a well-used drum-machine coexist with mournful guitar melodies, copious varieties of mood-setting keyboards, and clean guitar work to create songs that don’t really fit anyone’s mold of music.
There’s really no place for this album in the pop canon- it’s not something you release on the radio, nor is it music that would be good as soundtrack music (unless you had one really creepy, futuristic, militant movie to score). It strikes me as similar to the classical music I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to- modern composition, to be appreciated as composition.
The theme throughout the work is one of pushing forward, whether it be by the spare but insistent drumbeat in “Waking Up to Chaoticism,” the squalling guitar noises in “Churning Through Motions,” or the nearly out-of-control drum-machine spasms in “I Went to the Edge of the World.” The insistence is backed up by drawn-out tracks that drag the songs backwards, creating a tension that keeps me returning to these songs. The underlying organ drone and plodding lead guitar line in “I Went to the Edge of the World” fight the quick rhythms to pull the song in two directions, while the low noises and guitar melodies in “The Fire of 1818” keep the song from going forward or backward quickly. The finest tracks here are nothing short of brilliant in their scope and execution.
That’s not to say that there aren’t still problems- sung vocals, a problem on E. Deubner’s previous album, continue to be an issue on tracks like “I Went to the Middle of the World,” where the dramatic moaning gets a little too off-key and over-the-top to stomach. While this awful performance is redeemed by the Atari Star-esque “Time is an Animal,” in which Deubner actually carries a good melody and keeps an (almost) solid tone, the difficult vocals elsewhere are still a low point.
E Deubner is like Daniel Johnston- not in sound, but in the unfortunate way that the brilliance of his songs can currently only be appreciated by those who write music themselves. It takes patience to enjoy this album, and it’s not something you put on to casually chill out to, which means it lies in stark contrast to the listening habits of about 99% of the current music-listening population. But it is a shining testament to the fact that modern composition is the way that in-the-know rock bands are going, and it is one (tiny) step closer to letting all those outsider bands into the big game of accepted music.