Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM
Dan Donavan is a decidedly singular talent and since his days with Tribe of Dan, some three decades ago, has been cutting his very own, unique, swathe across the ether.
Those early days of primal hard rock are still in his DNA but with his constantly evolving muse, he’s wandered more and more into stripped back desert beats that have their roots to the beginning of time.
Following up his last release, the acclaimed ‘Mojo Del Rancho’, the global lockdown has prevented him from returning the California desert where that opus was recorded, instead he’s worked a lot closer to his Fenland home but the results are still as imbued with an otherworldly spirit that hangs as heavy as dust over the album.
There’s a real lived-in feel to both the writing and performances here, a raw honesty and an almost D.I.Y. vibe that eschews unnecessary trappings and goes straight to the heart and feet.
From the opening funky beats of ‘Dang, The Robots’, whose desert stoner rock has enough force to insist you dance, through to the closing gloriously atmospheric and timeless cyber poem ‘The Red’, here’s an album to cherish and thoroughly absorb.
Produced by Donovan and Gavin Monaghan, the two have refined the art of bringing the music to life and it takes on its own, living, breathing and chameleon like properties as it scuttles from the dark, shaded hillside crags out into the arid dunes.
Above everything, The Dan The D is a storyteller, weaving sonic tales and conjuring up wide vistas that are blurred at the edges, your imagination filling in the details.
The rhythms are hypnotic throughout, as are the filthy, bourbon soaked vocals as ‘Peace of Me’ and ‘Diggin A Spark’ weave their magic before the manic ‘Chicken Dance’ brings its canyon deep groove and blizzard of guitar and harmonica playing, hitting you square between the eyes.
Boy Moon’ is brilliantly haunting midnight gothic, conjuring ghosts of prospectors and the Old West, subtly twisting before an exotic Indian tabla rises as you get whisked from the muggy nights of New Orleans to the banks of the Ganges.
The scattergun ‘Sleeping With The Bad Boys’ rocks hard, showing another facet of Donovan and ‘This House Is Soul’ is pure Grindhouse movie soundtrack. The blissed out beats, strings, jazz drums and spoken word colour the quietly spectacular ‘Silence Creeps’ and ‘Testimone’ drips with atmosphere as we run through this kaleidoscopic world, springing up with the Krautrock crunch of ‘Fudge It’ that manages to make heads spin before exploding.
Stupefyingly inventive, pure and clear as a mountain spring and homegrown, ‘Bat Beats’ is the eighth wonder of the world.