NEWS : WED, APR 10, 2024 at 9:15 AM

Amen Dunes Presents “Round the World,” Centerpiece of Death Jokes, New Album Out May 10th via Sub Pop

Amen Dunes – the project of New York City-based Damon McMahon – releases “Round the World,” the centerpiece of new album, Death Jokes, out May 10th via Sub Pop, and announces a summer North American tour. “Round the World” is the album’s nine minute penultimate track and follows the “delicately lilting stunner” (PAPER) “Purple Land” and “Boys,” “an exciting step forward for Amen Dunes” (FADER). The video sees McMahon collaborating again with director Steven Brahms, who also directed the videos for Freedom’s “Believe” and “Miki Dora.”

“A daring turn in a different direction” (NPR Music) for Amen Dunes, Death Jokes marks his first record since 2018’s Freedom (named a “best album of the decade” by Pitchfork). Death Jokes is a major departure, an ambitious electronic album that sees McMahon immersing himself in the electronic music he’d grown up with at raves and clubs but never imagined himself able to make. For the first time since the project’s incarnation in 2006, the spiritual reflections and meditations of Amen Dunes are turned away from himself and out sharply towards the world. Through samples and lyrics, the album plays like a scathing electronic essay on America’s culture of violence, dominance, and destructive individualism. 

“Round the World” began to take shape with McMahon recording a voice memo in winter 2019 as he sang along to an improvised piano arrangement. The vocal came almost in full and was based around nine minutes of a constantly changing piano arrangement which took weeks to notate. McMahon couldn’t easily perform the piano part and tried to hire two different pianists to record it, but they weren’t able or willing. What first sounds like a heartbreak ballad — “Made up my mind/ I give up on you” — later warps into a ghostly dirge — “This world’s on fire/ Nothing seems true.” The haunted refrains of “round the world, round the world” and “let it rattle, let it rattle” sounded prophetic a few months later, when the pandemic took over around the world. The rest of the song features numerous samples, including a collection of Chilean protest recordings from the coup in 1973, a mash-up of Coil with Bill Monroe, Fairlight CMI string and horn, a slowed-down UK Garage track, and others. Country and folk music subtly appear throughout Death Jokes, and this song’s melody comes almost directly, and unconsciously, from the traditional song “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.”

One afternoon in July 2022 there was a massive thunderstorm in Woodstock, during which McMahon wrote and recorded the album’s title track, “Poor Cops,” and the final two minutes of “Round the World” all three of which contain the most significant samples on the record and speak most directly to the meaning of the album, which McMahon recently reflected on in the statement that follows:

Everybody wants everything to come so easily. 

Everybody wants to be comfortable, but they’re so uncomfortable.

We have so much of everything that it means nothing.

We take so much that we get nothing at all.

Some of us find a way to have our voices heard, but most of us are just being used.

You think they’re hearing you, but they’re not.

You say be yourself, but you won’t break the rules.

Poor cops, don’t let them tell you what to do.

You would punch a lot harder if you stopped being so cynical.

Fuck when you fuck, punch when you punch, love when you say you love.

We talk about wanting inclusion, but we shout about it while we hide in our cells.

We talk about being manipulated, but we do so using their methods and means.

They want us to feel like we are heard, so they encourage us to attack each other.

They tell us self-obsession is self-expression.

You say no one cares about you, but you don’t care about them.

My songs are all death jokes, and will long outlive me.

They remind me not to take myself too seriously.

I barely wrote them anyway. So who am I kidding?

And when I break the rules and speak honestly to you because I love you, that joke might get me killed too.

There is more that’s tragic than what you think is tragic.

Wake up, live in love.

You say life is hard, but it’s a joke.

The world is not about to end, in fact it’s just beginning.

Watch the Video for Amen Dunes’ “Round the World”

Following select shows in May and a summer tour of the UK and Europe, Amen Dunes will return to the US for an appearance at Pitchfork Music Festival in July and then embark on a North American tour in August. A full list of dates is below and tickets are on sale this Friday at 10am ET.

Pre-order Death Jokes

Listen to “Purple Land”

Watch Video For “Boys”

Amen Dunes Tour Dates

(new dates in bold)

Wed. May 8 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

Fri. May 10 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Bellwether

Wed. May 15 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel

Mon. July 1 - Paris, FR @ Trabendo

Wed. July 3 - Berlin, DE @ Gretchen

Fri. July 5 - Roskilde, DK @ Roskilde Festival

Sun. July 7 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso

Tue. July 9 - London, UK @ KOKO

Fri. July 19 - Chicago, IL @ Pitchfork Music Festival 

Tue. Aug. 13 - Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall

Wed. Aug. 14 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox

Fri. Aug 16 – Vancouver, BC @ The Pearl

Thu. Sep. 5 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts

Fri. Sep. 6 – Washington D.C. @ Black Cat

Sun. Sep. 8 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West

Tue. Sep. 10 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater

Wed. Sep. 11 – Austin, TX @ Empire Garage

Fri. Sep. 13 – Denver, CO @ Summit

Tue. Sep. 17 – Toronto, ON @ The Concert Hall

Wed. Sep. 18 – Montreal, QC @ Le Studio

Posted by Abbie Gobeli