Back in June of 2010, I wondered what to call Kyle Bobby Dunn. Was he a sound artist or a musical visionary or a minimalist or a composer? Over two years later, I’m still at a loss. And that’s a good thing.
With Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn, the clever Canadian-born musician draws out pads of sound from “electric guitar processing” and produces waves of meditative work. The record is a double-album, but dividing it into tracks and talking about the finer points of each piece is really an uphill climb into some shadowy mountains with bears around every corner and no cell phone reception. And the bears have machine guns.
It’s probably more useful to consider Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn as a series of tone poems, stylishly arranged to progress deliberately and shrewdly.
Some could consider this to be a sort of escape from the everyday, with Dunn’s movements providing a respite from the radio-friendly cast-offs of this era and the grinding traffic of the commute through life. It’s not a mistake to make use of this album for contemplative purposes, but there’s more at work here than the stuff of nature tapes and meditation records.
The most compelling aspect of Dunn’s music, at least in my view, has been how it unfolds into itself.
Dunn’s music doesn’t just unfurl like a scroll to reveal the next passage; it moves and evolves as it plays, producing a wall of awareness that articulately allows the listener to get lost and found all at the same time. Like some of Dunn’s more ambitious works from Ways of Meaning, the lion’s share of Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn represents a feeling of totality.
And like the music of A Young Person’s Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn, the exploration of space finds the calmness packing something more under the seemingly soothing surface. It creeps in, almost, like an unrelenting haze moving and then settling on the side of a precipitous passageway.
Yes, I know it feels weird and maybe even really fucking pretentious to describe music this way. But what Dunn does is beyond the scope of saying “Man, that seventh track is really great.” Talking about what Dunn does, then, requires more than just saying “Man, that seventh track is really great.”
Bring Me the Head of Kyle Bobby Dunn is a challenging record, but it is, like all of his work thus far, a gratifying experience. Call him a sound artist or a musical visionary or a minimalist or a composer all you want, but make sure you explore what he has to say before you settle in on a name for it.