A great deal is often made about well-known bands who plug themselves into ‘analogue’ studios to record albums that they want to sound ‘lush’ and ‘organic’. The outcome of this is certainly a warmer sound that plays well on vinyl. I’m not having a go here but merely pointing it out by way of saying that compared with the sound that Dusty Mush have achieved on their new ‘Cheap Entertainment’ album, such recording sound positively over-produced.
It’s fair to say that vocalist/ guitarist Cedric Bottacchi has gone out of his way to make this record sound as lo-fi as possible, and in doing created something that sounds different, even compared with music of a similar genre. In one sense this is an album of psych garage punk that puts a smile on your face every time you hear to it. Listen more closely, though, and you get a sense that nothing here is left to chance. But, and this is the difference for me, it is not out of a desire to sound ‘authentic’, rather to sound visceral and immediate.
Dusty Mush are a French three-piece, comprising Maxime Saïd (Drums), Romain Duplessier (Bass), and Cédric Bottacchi (Guitar, keyboard & vocals); in addition to the lo-fi sounds of their music, Duplessier has also recorded some videos on VHS as if to underline their approach (see accompanying YouTube videos). This desire to step back in terms of technology towards something that is less polished is, conversely, more difficult to achieve given the more intricate techniques that are involved. For me, though, they have been worth it in the way that they have produced both sound and visuals that enhance the music without playing to nostalgia.
In terms of the music, one you take on board the idea behind the tracks here, you see that there is a lot of deviation going on here. there are slower, more considered numbers (‘I Ate Your Dog’) and faster more immediate numbers (‘Hot Tomato’). There is the slow but compelling chug of ‘Couch Potato’, yet there is also the speed-freak ‘Bad Ideas’ which powers through at a million miles and hour.
On the other hand, and perhaps the one track, ‘Fullpipe’, that you could say adopted a more recognisable formula shakes that off by being the only track that exceeds the 3ish minute mark. This shows that the band can really play and, in particular, showcases Bottachi’s guitar during a well-worked bridge. In the end the ‘Fullpipe’ disintegrates into a form of organised chaos that is anything but the perky 60s West Coast garage track that it is at the beginning and, if anything, shows exactly what the band are about here in the way that they are taking familiar sounds, giving them their own slant in a way that helps them retain the DIY atmosphere of the track without sounding in any way hackneyed or overly beholden to the originals.
With ‘Cheap Entertainment’ Dusty Mush have managed to produce an album that at first sound appears to have been thrown together in someone’s garage, yet there is more going on here… not just something that has been thrown together, nor is it a curated sound. It’s an album that will please lovers of garage punk that’s for sure, it’s fun and fantastic… but there’s also a sense that this has been lovingly and painstakingly put together for our aural pleasure. Great stuff!
‘Cheap Entertainment’ is released as follows:
Stolen Body Records (UK) – LP/CD
Yippee Ki Yay Records (USA) – Cassette
The Attic Video (FR) – VHS
Order from Howlin Banana Records : howlinbananarecords.bandcamp.com/album/cheap-entertainment
Order from Stolen Body Records : stolenbodyrecords.co.uk/product/dusty-mush-cheap-entertainment/