Dumbo Gets Mad
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Dumbo Gets Mad


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"Marmelade Kids by Dumbo Gets Mad song of the day on NPR"

The Italian duo Dumbo Gets Mad specializes in psychedelics for the sober, bringing experimentation together with detailed pop songwriting. Keeping track of every subtle texture that flows through "Marmelade Kids" is harder than it sounds: The instrumentation comes on easily enough, but it's not long before the music develops into a series of different phaser effects, distortions and reverberations.

Synthesizers make up a great deal of the sound, but none of the equipment sounds new. From analog hums to Mellotron-like whispers, retro vibes are revived without sounding rehashed. The pitch-shifted vocals, which might be the oddest sound here, beckon eerily over a drum beat that could soundtrack any number of hip-hop songs. It's an instance where contrasts just work. Some art needs to be hung on the wall and stared at inquisitively, while other pieces require a more active approach. Strapping on an oxygen tank and diving in headfirst might be the wisest course of action here. - National Public Radio (NPR)

"Elephants at the Door is an inspiring victory of DIY determination (4/5)"

Despite how much blog buzz has been circulating around Dumbo Gets Mad's music, good luck finding out who he actually is. The humble fruits of my extensive research are as follows: 1) Dumbo Gets Mad is an Italian man with access to a recording studio, 2) he has a girlfriend who sings on Elephants at the Door when she feels like it, and 3) he likes Captain Beefheart. Beyond that, there are only pictures of the man in terrible vintage clothing wearing a mischievous smile and showing off a great mustache. This international man of mystery branded his leftfield studio creations after the acid-trip sequence from Disney's Dumbo, and the name would be awkward if he didn't have the playful glee to pull it off.

Dumbo Gets Mad's debut album, Elephants at the Door, was cooked up in the same kind of kitchen that brought us Super Furry Animals's deliciously strange Rings Around the World and the Flaming Lips's interstellar classic Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, championing the same psychedelic gumbo of fringe vibrations and weirdo shout-outs those two records pulled off brilliantly. Elephants at the Door is a quintessential outsider record, serving you trash and eloquence in equal doses, including but not limited to an elevator-smooth sax line that slithers out during the opening bars of "Plumy Tales," which received a rapturous reception in the blogosphere last year. Dumbo Gets Mad happily wears the influence of '60s schlock on his sleeve, and he's got the artistry to extract precisely what makes those records guilty pleasures, whip them together with his own forward-thinking musicianship, and come out looking like a prodigy. Elephants at the Door is an egalitarian affair on all fronts, from Dumbo Gets Mad's marrying of the low-budget, surreal garage style of Lenny Kaye's classic Nuggets compilation with the smooth, bizarre-pop confectionary heard most famously on Todd Rundgren's similar one-man show Something/Anything?, to his mining of early Zappa for freak-out swag while also repping hip-hop snare cracks with equal respect, all the way to his decision to give the album away with a "Pay with a Tweet or Facebook Post" business scheme.

All of Dumbo Gets Mad's influences are presented in sample sizes, and when aliens touch down in "Sleeping Over," twittering to us in indecipherable chipmunk pitches over a sleazy Funkadelic bassline, it doesn't sound like a joke. Instead, his eccentricities make Elephants at the Door more refreshingly unique than a lot of the indie pop currently saturating the market. Furthermore, when we hear the sound of elephants stomping on those aliens at the one-and-a-half-minute mark, roaring for a thrilling and staggering half second, Elephants at the Door officially announces itself as a fascinating and compelling rock record. "Plumy Tales" deserves the attention it's received, shifting from chunky guitar pop to grand harmonized choruses with ease, while tracks like "Harmony" and "Why Try?" carve out the album's true identity as a twisted, groovy pastiche of one man's expansive musical vocabulary. It's a hypnotic, opulently textured, and wonderfully addictive album.

Like Rundgren, Dumbo Gets Mad's got octopus arms in the studio—the quirky audacity to use anything and everything at his immediate disposal without prejudice. We're talking cowbells, synthesizers, tape machines, bubble generators; you name it, it's here. And somehow, it all works. Prime example is "Electric Prawn," which has a Cocteau Twins-esque chanteuse singing over a reggae guitar lick that echoes classic Studio One singles, a mash-up even the Hood Internet would never attempt, but somehow it works seamlessly.

On paper, all of this shouldn't work as cohesively as it does. Ambitious musicians can lose themselves trying to navigate such a big vision (Smile, anyone?), but Elephants at the Door is an inspiring victory of DIY determination. It may peter out a little bit in its last third, missing some of the boldness that made the album's hugely impressive first half hour so great, but the high is never completely lost. Whoever Dumbo Gets Mad is, he's got one hell of an ear, and judging by what he's delivered here, his record collection has to be a certified riot to thumb through. - SLANT Magazine

"Think of it as Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma from a psych rock perspective (8/10)"

Dumbo Gets Mad's debut album is a pretty hefty piece of psychedelic rock and pop. Rarely does anything about this LP come off as "normal." We're basically talking about an album full of odd synths, chipmunked vocals, bubble samples, and lyrics about prawns.

So it's hard to promote this simply as a "rock album," because experimentation and effects play such a heavy role in shaping the music here. Think of it as FlyLo's Cosmogramma from a psych rock perspective.

Despite all the indulgence, the sounds here are great. This thing has a huge, warm sound that could have only come from an analog recording. The music an come off a little too hectic or cacophonous at times, but it wouldn't be much an adventure if the jungle wasn't dense with plants. - The Needle Drop


Plumy Tale (Single, 2010) [Bad Panda Records]
Eclectic Prawn (Single, 2010) [Bad Panda Records]
Elephants At The Door (LP, 2011) [Bad Panda Records]
You Make You Feel Remixes (EP, 2011) [Bad Panda Records]



Dumbo Gets Mad emerged in the summer of 2010 in Northern Italy and has now migrated to Los Angeles. His initial aim was to lay down some marvelous music in an organic manner, open to whatever direction the tunes took during the recording session. The first published track was Plumy Tale, which received positive reviews from a number of music blogs. Dumbo then decided to work on a debut album with an express goal and spirit in mind: “No matter what it sounded like, it had to be psychedelic!”

The result is Elephants At The Door. The album was recorded sans fancy technology, using old-fashioned equipment like analog synthetizers and tape machines—and lots of good vibes.