Cy Dune – Desert

Akron/Family vocalist and songwriter Seth Olinsky is responsible for some of the nicest/noisiest shredding to be heard in the punk/freak underground. Sounds like hyperbole, but it’s kinda true. The tendency to rip through a track is seldom denied and the signature fingerwork of Olinsky leaves its prints like greasy, coked-up earworms. It’s good then, that back in 2010 Olinsky wandered off into the desert, developed a new persona ‘Cy Dune’ and committed himself to a whole new bunch of solo material.

Composed in the Sonoran Desert, in stucco rooms with exposed light bulbs, or out in ‘nature proper’, running on batter power – the songs here carry with them the kind of grit, heat, and dust that should be expected. There are elements when pause is given – a guitar note is held and wails, and we’re taken close to something as beautiful as a thing that inspires beautiful songs.

Recorded under a different kind of heat in Tucson, AZ and Joshua Tree, CA, Desert receives contributions from drummer Andrew Barker, and bassists Shazad Ismaily and William Parker. Additional contributions came from David Hartley (Nightlands, War on Drugs), and Chris Powell (Need New Body, Icy Demons) in Philadelphia. It’s testament to the spirit of these players that the archival recordings are not altered, but crafted to become the best examples of an experiment conducted in the wild.

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Carrying an electrical source out into the desert seems like a striking metaphor for the tone of this album. Energy is amplified, explored, and experimented with. We may find something out here that we carried with us. We may be struck by a bolt from the heavens. Moments of abstraction – ‘Desert 2’, ‘Desert 3’, ‘Desert 4’ offer exhilarating passages where Olinsky truly embodies his creation, Cy Dune, and these passages are propped up by structured moments like album-opener “When You Pass Me”, which is the most traditionally themed song on the album, maybe.

A moment of significant beauty comes in the closing track. “It is the is” reflects on the passing of time, and the coming on of old age. Cy Dune does not lament, nor resign himself to the inevitable end of a mortal coil. Instead there is an acceptance, which allows for celebration. In brevity there is beauty.

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