RMR himself discovered Dirty Sound Magnet felt eons ago, incidentally at a live concert in 2013. This was still the time with Didier Coenegracht at the helm and the band’s – at the time – newest and only record What Lies Behind on the menu. DSM in a robe of Zep-ish pleasures that immediately hooked this reviewer. And this concert may also have been a major influence to get this here music ‘zine on the road. In short, RMR and DSM go way back.
In the meantime, much has happened and this band is now a totally different animal. Out the door are those playful hints to old, retro-leaning groove, and in came psychedelic delights and sometimes harsh and sarcastic criticism of the world at large.1) But is that really so? Because here we got ourselves DSM-III, the third installment of Dirty Sound Magnet‘s new world. And it may not be exactly what the fans expected.
Here is a hard look at the record AND the live performance of the release show. Old friends beckon you.
If you are only interested in one part of this review, feel free to jump to it:
But do continue here, if you feel like reading it all.
DSM-III – The Review
Western Lies really took us aback once DSM‘s new era started in earnest in 2017. This was a total turnaround of a band that we had comfortably stored in vintage rock’s cozy world of old creaky leather couches, aged Bourbon, and shiny boots. To put it mildly, this new epoch of psychedelic sounds, alternative explorations, and weird chanting about the soundscape had us frozen for some time. And whilst it took a while, the RMR crew finally embraced the outstanding quality that new DSM thing would bring to the table.
Now, the third studio installment of the new timeline is due and we found DSM-III as retro-looking as it continues to cheekily weave its yarn of psych and alt. And the name of the record not only hints at the number three but also at a psychiatric book called the – and I quote “…Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”2) Truly, I kid you not.
Now, this new record suddenly sees the band injecting old and familiar sounds into their tune. Already Body in Mind had us watch over our shoulders. This is true rear window-looking, southern-fuelled rock that nonetheless runs high on those psychedelic vibes that became all the rage over here at DSM HQ. In a way, it feels like Social Media Boy gone to India – and back with a taste for snazzy rock and a penchant for LSD. Needless to say that this first track already contains one of Stavros Dzodzos‘ insane solos that will turn into the ‘fil-rouge’ of sorts of this record. DSM-III positively gorges with them.
Now, tracks like Meet The Shaman and the wildly erratic Toxic Monkey are typical examples of DSM‘s ‘new’ incarnation. But then it comes. The excellent Live Alert sessions already served as proof for this band’s undeniable knack for redecorating old songs and making them great again. Because – lo and behold – we found a few old friends, newly decked out and all shiny. Mr. Robert and Heavy Hours emanate from What Lies Behind3) whereas Sunday Drama made a first official appearance on the 2014 piece The Bloop.4) This truly astonished me, because – until lately – there was radio silence on anything South of Western Lies. Perhaps with the exception of Sunday Drama which found a number of different iterations over time.
And how did these old tracks fare? After all one
must should not rehash old material endlessly and rather concentrate on new offerings. Well, Mr. Robert turned into a refreshing tribute to Blues Rock with a solo section that took my breath away. Of course, always with that snarky sarcasm DSM is famous for. Heavy Hours is an audacious one, some sort of musical revenge porn where someone kept the hull only and changed the rest of the innards to address some past woes. But – again – typically aligned to the ‘new’ DSM sound with a hint of former times, bluesy delights, and trademark psychedelics. Pink Floyd did something similar back in time with their very own revenge song ‘Lost for Words’ on The Division Bell. Of course, not in musical style but certainly in deed.
DSM-III is a complete work of art. An album that will surely rival great pieces like the aforementioned Live Alert series. It’s a pretty snazzy mix of old and new material. And its more melodic and Southern-leaning approach will jack up its accessibility to the mean masses, too. That is not to say that it will hit the vile mainstream. But it will surely help the band grow that fanbase.
Ultimately though, DSM-III showcases a band in its prime. Dirty Sound Magnet now play their wares with a swagger, a rare authenticity, of a band sure of its ways. If anything, the pandemic welded this band together and not the other way around.
The result is one of their best records yet. One that combines old, cheekily rehashed tracks and new material that is equally strong. A tightly written mix of tastily retro-leaning psych, alt, and experimental rock with a Southern flavor that won’t let one millisecond of boredom creep into your listening session.
Take my word for it.
Ed’s note: Fancy more psych, rock and metal on a weird mission? Try Tranzat. From France.
Live Impressions @ Fri-Son!
It’s always interesting how a meaty live production will change the dynamics that the well-controlled CD so ardently provides. DSM played to a friendly crowd of mainly local fans, an amiable mix of people that – to my surprise – contained pretty much all ages. And that’s a good spot to be in for any rock band out there.
The band played a huge set of some 1.5 hours, mainly based on DSM-III. And right off the bat, one got that sense of energetic purpose. They took no prisoners and gave Meet The Shaman a great sendoff pregnant with thunderous drums, percussion, and Dzodzos‘ faux Ozzy whine. And once Toxic Monkey hit the stage, the hall cooked off like a rocket.
But the moment Dzodzos took to his (usual) guitar wizardry, a few of the fans in the crowd grew positively delirious. And for cause, the live version of Mr. Robert, for instance, greedily thrived on an extended version of blues and a solo that had me transfixed.
You see, these guys just waltz into live sessions and make the most difficult guitar parts look easy, with the string masters acting as some sort of a tag team. Meaning that Marco Mottolini with his ever-present and comfortably loud bass and Stavros Dzodzos actually play at each other as much as playing together. The RMR crew already came across a few great rock and metal bands with that kind of capability and this is always a sign of not only harmony in the band itself but of great creative quality.
Sunday Drama came with some pseudo-African rhythms and a carload of wah-wah. This is one track that found a few different identities over time, but the live versions were always the juiciest. And this one did not disappoint.
In the midst of all this goodness, the band injected a jamming section that allowed the individual members to show off their skills. And here, let me point out Maxime Cosandey with some of the best live performances of drumming skills I have heard to date. Some outstanding devilry with (very loud) special effects that let the music hall tremble with its mighty thunder.
Of course, old goodies must always be part of a good setlist, and this concert was no different. DSM dazzled the audience with a pretty snazzy version of Western Lies. Social Media Boy followed on its heels dripping with a laid-back groove that RMR here found irresistible. And lastly, The Poet and the Prophet and The Sophisticated Dark Ages found their way onto the stage as well.
DSM presented a thunderingly good live concert for the release of DSM-III. One that not only covered old but also new and newer songs out there. A true delight after that pandemic-imposed stop of anything live. Let’s hope it stays that way.
|1.||And – the first two records with Coenegracht were conspicuously absent for a while. The band just didn’t talk about them anymore. -Ed.|
|2.||It truly exists, you can buy it. It will knock you back a ton of greenbacks, though. -Ed.|
|3.||Almost impossible to find these days.|
|4.||“…Chocolate Womaaaan…”, still follows me around.|
|5.||Rating applies to main review only. Live performances won’t garner any. Ever.|