Gabe Simon ’20 released his debut album, “Mr. Adrian Goes to Kihei” last week under the stage name of “Dogmanjones.”
Now available on Spotify and Apple Music, Dogman’s tracks resist any sort of neat denomination; punctuated by abundant sampling and incorporating elements of lo-fi, pop, hip-hop and jazz, his sound is undeniably unique. He refuses to allow his listener to settle into his music — nearly half of his songs are under a minute long, and most are composed of multiple melodically-distinct segments. Running at a mere 17 minutes, this trim little album is a whirlwind of image and sound.
The unique chord that Dogman manages to strike — stylistically speaking — is best exemplified by the music video that accompanies the album’s first song, “No Water.” The colors of the video seem to change almost frame-by-frame, from oversaturated greens to grayscale to dreamscapes of pink and yellow. The video revolves around the bizarre intersection of the surreal with the everyday: the masked Dogman reads a newspaper, runs around in a bathrobe, and spills his coffee, but also dances wildly on a dock, screams into the camera and slams on a huge drum set in the expanse of an open meadow. The effect is strange and perhaps even a bit jarring, but the vision is so cogent and the discordant elements so meticulously interposed that the result is undeniably compelling.
Dogman maintains this brand of chaotic whimsy throughout the rest of his album. His second song, “Green Pinecone,” is delivered from the perspective of an anthropomorphic pinecone as he sings, “I’m a green pinecone that was knocked off my tree / and I’m pretty sad about it ‘cause I didn’t want to leave.” From there, we immediately depart from the perspective of the pinecone as Dogman sings, “How many slices of banana should I put in my oatmeal?” This phrase is repeated over and again, layering on itself rhythmically and melodically, transforming this routine question into something complex and captivating, something that becomes worthy of contemplation.
The album also includes “Flip Flop,” which begins as a chaotic ode to a lost flip flop and then shifts to a rhythmic chill-pop jam, and “Thanks for Coming,” an epic exposition of the rules of a Dogman house party. Not to mention “SFO,” which interrupts itself halfway through to proclaim, “And who could forget the story of the seagull and hotdog?” These peculiar moments have no obvious connection to one another, but by pairing vibrant, eclectic images with corresponding auditory elements, Dogman creates a kaleidoscope of sorts; his discordant pieces ultimately cohere into something that is odd and irresistible.
Although the album largely avoids following a single melodic thread for an entire track, it is full of tantalizing glimpses of Dogman’s ability to write melody. This is especially apparent in Dogman’s fourth song, “Nothing Left to Say,” which is a decided departure from the rest of the album in both tone and degree of uniformity. The melody is elegant, the lyrics sharp and poignant, and when combined with Dogman’s crisp, yet muted, vocals, the result is haunting. This is the sort of song you want to listen to for five minutes, not 1:19.
Dogman’s striking vision and unique sound reflect an acute musical ability and a formidable lyrical talent. Fortunately for Dogman’s listeners, this can only mean that there are more exciting things to come.