Dommengang: No Keys (Thrill Jockey)

LA based heavy rockers return with solid third LP with nods to psych, blues and Kosmische

Released May 17th, 2019 via Thrill Jockey / By Norman Miller
Dommengang: No Keys (Thrill Jockey) This third album from heavy rock trio Dommengang finds them further extending the dark control that marked last year's Love Jail album compared to the psych-rock abandon of their eponymous 2015 debut. Maybe it's because the trio spent more time in close proximity in LA after years living far apart. Guitarist Dan “Sig” Wilson Guitarist had been a long-time stalwart of the Pacific Northwest psych scene, while bassist Brian Markham and drummer Adam Bulgasem had roots in Oregon and Alaska, but hung out together in New York.

Though the geographical source of this album is LA, Dommengang's musical sources range far wider – West Coast psych and European Kosmische, with nods throughout to a motherlode of late 60s/early 70s rock, from Deep Purple to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Recorded live with minimal overdubs, there's a great raw quality to much of the nine-track set – along with enough pleasing diversity to show these guys work beyond simple templates. So while Sunny Day Flooding opens the album like an early 70s rock workout, Earth Blues follows with something far more distinctive, its melodic core built around chiming guitar and driving bass, plus a perfect amount of heavy chord crunch and vocal wail.

There's more memorable cleverness on Stir The Sea – a cosmic gem whose guitar licks stab through reverb-filled vocals and trippy groove asides, contrasted by the hard-edged driving psych of Wild Wash, sweeping relentlessly along like a tsunami of sound.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the album's finest moment for me is its quietest instrumental, Arcularius – Burke - a gorgeous lattice of bass and guitar veering expertly between delicate and piercing, with a helping of fantastic little fuzzy edges. Blues Rot, though short, is a thing of slow-paced dark gothic beauty. Very different but as good is the closing Happy Death (Her Blues II) whose epic grandeur fuses rough-edged swamp rock and blues with Doors-like organ overtones from guest keyboard dude Adam Parks.

A couple of tracks veer a little towards filler territory. Kudzu is pleasant-enough (maybe ironic) drivetime strut for a two lane black top, while the mid-tempo Jerusalem Cricket comes over like a take on edgy math rock livened with some outstanding throwaway guitar licks set into some great foregrounded drum work. But overall, plenty to enjoy. 3/5