D.W. Denham is an experimental musician from Melbourne, Australia. His musical history can be traced back to the early 80’s in Sydney, Australia when he performed in and wrote material for Post Punk bands such as Killer Satellites and Lost and Forgotten. Hardly a one trick pony, he has also developed experimental soundtracks for art exhibitions and theatrical productions throughout the course of his music career. Impeccably demonstrating that he is a composer of a broad variety of styles and genres, D.W. Denham’s release Early Works 1, paints a thorough picture of his abstract recording and composition skills very well.
“The Hole” sets the tone for the release with a lightly oscillating drone which eventually resolves to a consistent drone around the forty second mark. Slowly thereafter, the piece segues into a somber, pensive suite with a cinematic, space movie feel. Over a bed of Brass and Woodwind patches there are series of melodic themes presented that gradually build up without reaching a loud or suspenseful climax. If anything, the piece can be likened to an “ending credits” scene of a Crime-Drama or Action-Adventure movie where closure presents itself without sentiment. Stylistically, I hear many Impressionistic Neoclassical influences from composers such as Claude Debussy and Richard Strauss (whose movement “Also sprach Zarathustra” was used in 2001: A Space Odyssey).
A stark contrast from the previous work, “A Siren Sings to the Beat of a Different Train” begins with bursts of atonal, metallic percussion, setting the tone for something far more sinister. An obscure, low-key drone runs throughout the piece without any variation as some saw waves drenched in reverb swell in reverse. The cacophonous arrangement is made complete with a cloud of Industrial-influenced static (perhaps performed on a ring-modulated guitar or a heavily distorted synth) along with a few sparse yet prominent piano bursts that add to the dissonant sonic landscape.
Going deeper into Avant-Garde experimentation, the next track, “Stranger Northland Things”, is comprised of many layers of human voices that drown each other out. Faint music samples, infrasonic saw waves, and robotic like sound effects help create an atmosphere akin to being lost in another dimension where machines and extraterrestrial creatures render the human race as archaic and obsolete. While nothing tonal or melodic happens throughout, this track is still a delightfully disturbing listen for Noise music enthusiasts. A bit like the previous track, there are undisputed influences from Musique Concréte pioneers such as Edgar Varese as well as experimental composers such as John Cage.
The final track, “Crossing the Border”, ends the release on a more structured note. Having an Industrial-light, Electronica influenced framework, the piece is carried by a series of ominous, low-end saw waves that run over a somewhat danceable yet mysterious beat. A few sprinkles of sparse, heavily reverberated square punches are articulated very abruptly over the haunting bed of synths that saturate the arrangement. It draws from elements from musicians such as Brian Eno (particularly his works post 1990) and Trent Reznor (see his later works such as Ghosts). This work can fit very appropriately in a Sci-Fi or Mystery themed video game; games like Gears of War and Condemned have vividly entered my mind as I listened.
I recommend checking out D.W. Denham’s diverse catalog of material. In particular, his release Early Works 1 is a terrific starting point to get a glimpse of his versatile talents, creativity, and out-of-the-box approach to music composition.