Album Review: Dinowalrus – %

Imagine a futuristic punk traveling through space.  Buzz Aldrin is on the dashboard and frantic, psychedelic rock is blaring out of the speakers in a ship traversing the cosmos. The sounds being emitted are those of punk rock drowned in a reservoir of synthesizers and 80’s shoegaze. Throw in an abundance of noise, atmosphere, echo, and distortion and you have the perfect description of the soundtrack accompanying the expedition of a life time. Dinowalrus, the group producing the space-induced punk rock, has only been around for a few years but is beginning to make quite a name for itself among its peers.  Bands such as Japandroids, A Place to Bury Strangers and The Mae Shi have all allowed the band to share the stage with them and Dinowalrus has more than held their own.

%, the new full-length effort , is electronic fused punk that’s filled with new and unique ideas but, by the time it’s all over, the new-car smell doesn’t seem so new anymore. What makes the sound stand out from all the rest though, is the fact that almost all of the instrumentation is mixed into the background. Atmosphere, distance and loneliness are at the forefront controlling where each of the songs go. The more straight-forward endeavors such as “BEAD” and “CMYK” present angry yet funky rhythms that weave and bob through a thick coating of atmosphere and synth. The instruments try to lead us through these songs but the listening pleasure gets lost in translation.

The short interludes “East German Western”, “I Hate Letters”, and “BEAD (Flashback)”  all lead us to the right locations in outer space but it’s the focus of atmosphere that’s a bit bothering. The group chooses to build on and develop specific tone and air but a focus on song structure doesn’t seem to exist. This is the only reason I feel that the album falters. Even though it seems to be only one small issue, not having a base to build off of seems to affect the music in a negative fashion. A listeners’s intrigue dwindles when form doesn’t present itself.

One stand out song, “Electric Car, Gas Guitar,” is filled with hard hitting and reverberating guitar sounds. Feedback engulfs and helps to generate the main atmosphere. Other gems among the universe are “I Hate Numbers” (the sequel to “I Hate Letters”), and “Cage Those Pythons”. Each of these songs has a dark tone reminiscent of old 80’s industrial. The first one has a quick beat and harsh vocals. It then, surprisingly, gives way to a dreamscape David Bowie would almost create, similar vocals and all. The second of the two combines Type O Negative goth rock with surfer rock from a beach on a terrestrial planet all tinged with the same punk vibe that opened up the album.

Dinowalrus has a great thing going for them. Boundary-pushing ideas and unique atmospheres all combined with a classic punk feel is a great new frontier to be exploring. If song structure was prominent throughout the entire album then this is one noise that would be heard around the entire galaxy. The lack of, though, stops it from doing so. At best, % should be heard by all punk, shoegaze, and noise enthusiasts at least a few times. Experimental noise punk is the way of the future and with constant fine-tuning this is one genre that will start to gain steam and pick up speed real fast. Dinowalrus is still in the countdown stage of a rocket launch but with enough work the fuel boosters will blast this ship into the furthest reaches of the unknown. When that happens, I’m sure a dedicated fan base will be watching.


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