Music

Dim Dim: Whip

Emotion in cartoon motion, laughing and crying, from a lovely eccentric Belgian.


Dim Dim

Whip

Label: Audio Dregs
UK Release Date: 2008-08-12
US Release Date: 2008-11-18
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

There’s an imaginary world where childlike innocence meshes inexplicably well with menacing, loony, adult sensibilities. Where mental illness and brilliance are essentially one and the same, sugar high from Technicolor candy and bright syrupy sodas. It’s hard to capture the this essence, which might explain why, say, a book like Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has seen two incomplete movie adaptations (though, for the record, Gene Wilder will always be Willy Wonka in my heart). The dilemma: how to embrace rainbows and birds and neon landscapes without descending into pap, and how to slyly introduce the darkness around the corner without crashing in excessive macabre?

I can’t give a definitive answer to these burning questions, but that je ne sais quoi mark of artistic brilliance pushes Whip, Dim Dim’s latest and best album, into that mind-blowing realm. This is music from relatable origins, but its themes are decidedly surreal. A comic book artist in his other life, Belgian Jerry Dimmer has dedicated this record to beats with silly samples, little guitar ditties, and bubbly piano and marimba. The joyous storm clouds and songbirds flanking a humanoid cat on the cover are fitting visual ambassadors from the land in which this music would appear as the natural soundtrack. Reach out and shake hands with a car, only to have it smile back at you and then perhaps explode in multicolored bodily fluids. Then resume along your merry away, but don’t forget to waltz with the flowers.

This kind of plinky electronic silliness owes a decent debt to Jean Jacques-Perry, as seen in the zany monosyllabic samples and giggles that punctuate the synth blobs on tracks like the otherwise-deceivingly debonair “Split”. Elsewhere, a series of tiny intros embrace squelchy synth warbles and uncanny emotional attacks, such as the helium French narration on “Pityfull Player” or the radio dial surf “Tune In”. If Dimmer’s vision has allowed him entry to the aforementioned imaginary world of surreal artistic gold, he’s a wise observer, utilizing hip-hop beats and a manic way with eclectic samples.

Whip maintains listener interest astoundingly well, via Dimmer’s consistent curve balls. The deep and weepy pad punctuating the title track sounds like nothing else on the record, and pretty much every longer track has some kind of signature sound or riff so as to establish it as an individual worth revisiting. Leaping to “Smart”, we’re treated to a sunset of beautifully bent, tropical guitar. Dimmer’s beats have always been loony, but never before has his beat making been this crazy like fox. Like contemporary Mr. Scruff, he’s a master of eyebrow-raising layers, one odd new sound after another added to each little sonic stew. But, one-upping his peers, Dimmer’s tracks this time around grab a hold from the get-go. Given the sequencing of the album (particularly considering its shorter interludes) it’s best to listen to Whip linearly; randomly throwing on, say, “In Your Town,” makes it no less an enjoyable piece of breathy female vocal-laden avant-pop.

As for that sense of menace I mentioned earlier, I suppose Whip is a bit light when it comes to dark corners (pun possibly intended). But the optimism inherent in this album is clearly genuine, from a man who lives a normal life of ups and downs, but, possessed of a powerful imagination, has opted to unleash his surreal conceptions upon the world. And Mika had the audacity to title his record Life In Cartoon Motion? For the adventurous souls interested in a chunky rainbow of beats and bounce, Whip is as good as it gets.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image