Degurutieni Revels in Exotica and Weirdness on ‘Dark Mondo’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

When you receive music from Voodoo Rhythm Records, you can bet that it’s going to be something unusual. But even if you’re prepared for something unusual, you’re probably not entirely prepared for Degurutieni.

Degurutieni is a one-man band who grew up in Osaka, Japan. He began creating music when he was 16, using whatever he could find and recording songs on an old tape recorder. With his new album Dark Mondo, he continued his unusual methods by recording everything onto his phone and exporting the tracks separately for use in the studio. The result is some mad genius that is impossible to categorize.

The album begins with a spooky instrumental song that is only one minute long. The mood of the song is cinematic. It seems like the perfect song for a scene in a horror movie where someone is walking through a dark passage (possibly underground) toward some ominous end.

That cinematic feel is consistent throughout the album. Any number of songs here would fit into the soundtrack of a film, particularly a tense psychological thriller. The beginning of “Shanghai” is a great example. It features an irregular rhythm and some high and spacey sounds that are reminiscent of a theremin.

When you first hear the vocals, you can’t help but notice the vocal similarity to Tom Waits, and it’s not just the vocals that are similar. Some of the melodies in these songs are akin to Waits in the era of Mule Variations and Blood Money.

It’s impossible to predict what comes next on this album. Somehow he makes it completely normal to go from jazzy sounds like Miles Davis to exotica sounds. The effect is as hard to explain as you might imagine. Imagine if Tom Waits fronted an exotica orchestra and invited Soul Coughing to sit in on some songs. That’s a description that gets you close, but still doesn’t do complete justice to the listening experience of this album.

It’s not easy to know where to file this record. One thing is for sure: you couldn’t rightfully file it under easy listening. Degurutieni challenges the listener with unusual song structure, rhythms, and instrumentation. This isn’t a singalong album, but it’s pretty safe to say that you won’t hear many albums like it.

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