SISYPHUS, WINDOW CLEANING - Dimi Dero Inc (Off the Hip)
Angst-ridden declaiming doesn't usually row my boat but these guys from France have sufficient rock and roll in their swagger 'n' snarl to pull it off - convincingly, I might add after seeing them live a couple of times. Melbourne-based blues-howlers The Drones have a high opinion of Dimi Dero Inc after sharing European stages and are hosting them as their support for an Australian tour.
If it's surprising to see Dimi Dero Inc on Aussie label Off the Hip (who usually dig deep into garage and powerpop) it's also more reason for your average I-94 Barfly to cock an ear. It's an indication there's something going on here and while their earlier albums ("Greetings From Trauma" and "Good Morning Mr Edvard") had their share of dark merit, this is a notch above both.
Dimi Dero - the man, as opposed to the band - is a multi-instrumentalist from Paris and the driving force on vocals and guitar. He's also a graduate of the Rowland S. Howard School of Dark and Foreboding Songs With Switchblade Guitar. While there's nothing as singular as RSH's uniquely crazed six-string carnage, it's still running on a heartful of black blood.
I'm lazy enough to like to have seen a lyric sheet with this CD but it might have spoilt the fun that comes with working them out. They're sung in English (rock and roll's universal language) with Dimi grimly intoning words about revenge and assorted emotions. Sounds great when he slides and wrings out the words and pretty Gallic. But a soundtrack to a sunny day down the beach, it isn't.
A few people have disagreed with the Birthday Party and the Scientists as obvious references points but there's enough droning repetition, throbbing bass and scarifying guitar for mine to point to both. "Ah Oui, C'est La Vie" could easily pass as something from "Junkyard" and "You Abandon Yourself" is at least a superficial cousin of "Swampland" in the opening chords.
High point for mine is the loping, magnificent "Damn !", propelled by a swinging backbeat, droning guitar and truly mighty Dimi vocal. There's enough dynamics in "Cut" to satisfy a roomful of quantum electrodynamics graduates. Doubt whether they could rationalise it, though.
Sharp-eyed CD cover scholars might note Vinz on bass as the same bloke who drives the bottom-end for fellow Frenchmen Holy Curse, while this tour sees Pascal who used to be in that band helping out on guitar. Which just goes to show the French scene can be as incestuous as Australia's. If you're looking for another Antipodean connection, Ash Wednesday of Jab, The Models and more recently, Einsturzende Neubauten (for correctly spelling whose name, I deserve a stein of fine Bavarian beer), helps with his distinctive keyboard stylings.
From the relatively straight-up rock of opener "You Abandoned Yourself" to the homicidal sturm und drang of the closing "I Washed Your Windows Clean", this is an album to kill kittens to. – The Barman
GREETINGS FROM TRAUMA – Dimi Dero Inc. (E.L.P.)
Maybe I’m not the best person to review this album by a band that few are likely to have heard of outside their native France. I’ll explain the first part as part of a case justifying why the latter ought to change.
Back in the ‘80s, the well-plumed, black-clad spectre of bands like the Birthday Party, and some of their “junk rock” offspring, left me cold. Maybe it was a geographical thing, them being Melbourne and the preferred sounds being Sydney and (silly as it sounds) never the ‘tween used to meet. Most likely it was the overload of angst in their attack, and the emphasis (reliance?) on oh-so-serious media pronouncements by said bands to make a, ahem, “scene” for themselves. (Sorry, Nick Cave, but you did come across as a self-important tosser).
Anyway, this is an album with a dark heart and maybe, in a perverse way, that’s the reason I’m into it. ‘Cos it still rocks - and creaks. More brooding than brutal, the bones are showing but there’s enough meat in the stew to keep me happy.
Dimi Dero Inc are a little like the Birthday Party, with rock roots and fewer non-sequiturs. Dark and dense, both lyrically and musically, I dig it like I dig the Scientists and the Moodists, two bands who might not have attended the same school as Saint Cave but at least used wound up sharing the same playground. The album title is a blatant Scientists reference that gives a clue, just like song titles like “foetus in the red” and “Down in hell”.
The dark aspect is part of the picture, but it’s by no means a limited canvas. The shuffling feel and piano appellations of “Your Shallow Grave”, for example, recall some of the stuff on Louis Tillett’s first album (no small recommendation), while "Koursk" is a clear take on the Birthday Party's "Zoo Music Girl". (Trivia point: "Zoo Music Girl" is allegedly a fave of Kylie Minogue's. Would she take to Dimi Dero Inc?)
Singer and central force of “Dimi Dero Inc” (is the incorporation a tax shelter?), Dimi Dero, is a pretty fair vocalist, if at times slightly buried in the mix. Also central is the very capable basswork of Vinz Holy Curse, given that this material is outside the remit of his usual band (Holy Curse), who come from Paris-via-Detroit. From the clattering stomp of “Funky shit” to the simple pulse of “People on the dancefloor”, he’s sitting in the same seat as Chris Walsh or Boris Sudjovic who were just as vital forces in the Moodists and Scientists respectively. Kudos, too, to guitarist Benko who invokes nice fat walls of six-string noise without overplaying his hand.
There’s also a goodly chunk of the Beasts of Bourbon here, too. Although Dimi can’t muster the same sense of psychotic-farmboy-full-of-piss-and-out-to-buy-an-axe as Tex Perkins at his best, a song like “Deep sleep” would seem to sit well in the Aussie band’s hands. They’re on the same page as Dimi Dero Inc with the dynamics of “Down in hell”, a song drawing on all of the aforementioned influences. Or influencers.
I don’t want to give the impression that this album is too derivative. All of the above are reference points, merely meant to convey a sense of what it’s about. There's an earlier album buried around the Bar somewhere (unreviewed because I couldn't make out the track names, I recall) and "Trauma" is prompting a re-visit. Music’s a mood thing. I don’t know that I’ll spin “Greetings…” every day of the working week - but don’t go asking for a lend soon. – The Barman
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