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By distorting hard boiled film and classic instrumental music through a dark, overcast lens, Diminished Men refocus their influences into something entirely unique. Their jagged, hard-charging approach evokes images of slit jugulars and accelerated heart rates, all the while swathing you in a blissful claustrophobia. Drawing elements of Link Wray, Morricone's dissonant horror scores, gritty noir and Joe Meek's sickly productions, as well as the provocative imagery of filmmakers like Wim Wenders and Jean-Pierre Melville, synthesizing them into something truly organic and original. |
"Capnomancy" (Jan 2013), their second release on Abduction Records, run by Alan Bishop of the legendary Sun City Girls and the Sublime Frequencies label, is a collection of stark instrumentals, full of high tension energy and infected terror. Cloaked in a supernatural fog and electrical storms, chiaroscuro landscapes read like a sci-fi postcard with a Giallo ransom note attached. One of the last albums to be recorded at his now defunct Aleph Studio, producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc.) contributes greatly with his visceral, heavy production, making this album their darkest offering yet.
Their first full length "Names of the Dead" from 2005 introduced the bands cinema obscura ethos. A bizarre series of cassettes 2006-2008 "American Volume Swells" and the more recent 2012 "Six O' Clock Baby" album revealed a raw and unchecked side of the band through live recordings, improvisations and collage. It was their 2009 "Shadow Instrumentals" record on the Abduction label that got the band wider recognition for their creative and distinctive sound. A superbly crafted mosaic of speakeasy hallucinations and haunted geography, full of lush production and ambitious arrangements. Besides the Italian western overtones, Khorshid Egyptian guitar passages, murder-blues drama and flipped out electronic space psych, are perhaps the best surf inspired tracks in years. A shape-shifting set of music, opening yet another wormhole to the groups varied influences.
Formed in 2005 by guitarist Steve Schmitt and drummer Dave Abramson, Diminished Men are an integral part of Seattle's unique and prolific underground music scene. Abramson, also a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, has done time in Climax Golden Twins and has collaborated with Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvind Kang, Six Organs of Admittance, Grails, etc. Multi-instrumentalist Simon Henneman has released two solo records and plays guitar in the free jazz duo WA with iconic Northwest drummer Gregg Keplinger.
SHADOW INSTRUMENTALS LP (Abduction, 2009):
**If current instrumental music was always as majestic and as compelling as this, I'd hang up my Retro-Italian Soundtrack collector's boots for good. What we have here is the first definitive document from Seattle's Diminished Men. From the explosive drum rolls of the opening track, the only cover on the record, "L'appel du Vere", from Roman Polanski's "The Tenant" (composed by Phillipe Sarde) to the darkly exotic finale "A Housewife's Dram", this record is a superbly crafted mosaic of whip-cracking vengeance, speakeasy hallucinations, and haunted geography. Besides the Italian western overtones, carnivalesque freak show backdrops, Khorshid Egyptian guitar passages, and flipped-out electronic space psych, are perhaps the best surf-inspired tracks I've heard in years. A thick damp fog must have been rolling in from the creek behind Randall Dunn's West Seattle studio when these recordings were made. Its spine-chilling how Dunn managed to make this record sound like the ultimate mid-60's Surf-Vampire-Western revival soundtrack. Elements of Joe Meek's best Moontrekkers productions cross with a dash of Badalamentian murder blues drama setting the stage for Steve Schmitt's cobra-twilight guitar work and Dave Abramson's drum kit outlaw splatter to leave their indelible stains across this 41-minute epic journey."
-ALAN BISHOP (Sun City Girls, Sublime Frequencies)
Imagine the encounter between the universe of the original bands of Angelo Badalamenti and of Ennio Morricone, surfing music, the jazz and the psychedelic music. If I say you that what's more, their last disc, "instrumental shadow", is produced by Randall Dunn (that already did its proofs with Sun City Girls, Secret Chiefs 3, Earth, Jesse Sykes, Suno) )), Eyvind Kang. ..). Does Ca put you the water to the not mouth? And you have reason for this "instrumental shadow" is a small wonder! This American quartet (guitar, low, battery, saxophone), coming from the scene of Seattle, did not realize beforehand that a single disc, "names of the dead", put to leaves the two volumes of the "american volume swells", go out only in cassette. Completely instrumental, "instrumental shadow" is a timeless, epic album and to the force évocatrice undisputable. To the listens of this disc, one imagines oneself turn to turn in the "red room" of Twin Peaks, or then to wander to horse in the middle of the Far West. Thanks to of superb arrangements, the Diminished Men have therefore shorn a disc to the delectable film mood. Besides, the disc opens by a return of the theme of the film "the tenant" of Novel Polanski, "the glass call" (composed by Sardinian Phillipe). What's more already quoted artists, one thinks equally sometimes to Secret Chiefs 3 in its moments the more "morriconiens". They have besides turned with the latter as well as with the Master Musicians Of Bukkake (of which I strongly counsel you their last album "totem 1", gone out in the spring last).
ALTERNATIVE SOUND -France
I usually refuse to listen to music without lyrics made after 1976, but producer Randall Dunn (who's worked with Sun City Girls, Sunn O))), Earth, etc.) made this album sound like it was recorded in a time vacuum. It falls under some tangential, unclassifiable genre that combines surf rock, space psych, weird Egyptian modal shit, and music that ghosts like. The only bad part is that they only made 500 vinyl copies, so you better figure out how to get it quickly or you won't be able to show your limp-wristed post-rock buds why Mogwai is for toddlers.
-Dilbert Mugabe, VICE MAGAZINE
Diminished Men are grand theater, psychedelic, spaghetti-eastern music, presented under the tonalities of surf rock. Explodo-free jazz-groove drumming, deceivingly insane electric guitar, and swanky sax from your wildest Reeperbahn dreams.
-Jared Nelson, NORTHWEST MUSIC BLOG
I was underwhelmed on my first two listens to the Diminished Men LP on Abduction but on my third it's really getting somewhere. Sure, this Seattle band plays a sort of avant MOR, soundtracky modern-day surf instrumentalism that would seem polite enough to go down just fine as bumpers to just about any arts & entertainment reporting on your actual local NPR station, but, because their overall presentation is contained and controlled and stays well within the bounds of Randall Dunn's high-quality production aura, it's only now that I'm realizing that they play these themes rather ferociously, and that the stuff in between the themes is actually pretty out there.
-BLASTITUDE , Chicago
Diminished Men's new album, Shadow Instrumentals (Abduction Records), partially draws on the fantastical Italian horror-flick genre known as giallo for sonic inspiration. The band's jagged, hard-charging, reverbed riffing evokes images of slit jugulars and accelerated heart rates, all the while swathing you in a velvety claustrophobia. If soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone became possessed by guitarists Duane Eddy and Cliff Richard, and then the three cut a record in a Roma mansion spattered with ectoplasm, it would sound like the new Diminished Men opus.
-Dave Segal, THE STRANGER, Seattle