Serving as a testament to his deep foundation in the landscape of postmodern electronic music, Dugong Jr. has shared his highly anticipated, forward-thinking EP, ‘Pleasure Principle’.
Returning to his roots, Dugong Jr. has turned away from genre-defined music, working with like minded artists Jordan Dennis, Evangeline and Rromarin to push the boundaries of experimental, electronic production. Pleasure Principles also reunites Dugong Jr. with longtime friend and visual collaborator, Nickeays, moulding elements of both surrealism and retro futurism to create the quintessential reflection to the EP’s soundscape.
We’re welcomed to the record through ‘Slow It Down’, a paced, energetic number made in collaboration with fellow Melbourne rapper/vocalist Jordan Dennis. ‘Slow It Down’ opens with a Channel Tre’s style vocal that slowly builds into the pulsing groove of the beat, coupled with a chunky bass line and silky guitar tone. Gliding between two soulful chords and a unique jazz synth melody, ‘Slow It Down’ sets the tone of the record perfectly.
‘Regret’ is a personification of Dugong Jr’s vision of the album. Pushing musical boundaries through dissonant piano melodies and outside of the box production, Dugong Jr creates an unorthodox, yet perfect blend of late-night jazz, house and funk. The track is largely instrumental with whispers of “regret” sprinkled across the production and a pretty, raw piano melody taking the spotlight in the chorus.
Closing out the first half of the record, ‘Ghost’ features the beautiful vocals of Australian singer Evangeline. A modern day nod to the disco scene of the early 80’s, Dugong Jr. sits the long chords of the piano, and pulsing synths atop of the driving rhythm of the bass and beat. The artist reveals his understanding of being a collaborator, incorporating a gliding portamento synth line underneath Evangeline’s melodies to not only tie the two elements together, but the whole song.
‘Drive’, the second instalment of the Jordan Dennis collaboration, throws you a curve ball with a hip-hop orientated sonic palette, mixing sounds of the Chinese zither, wobbly synths and a funky moog bassline. The pair use the verses of the track to establish an unstable feeling as Jordan’s cadence keeps things from falling away. These verses build and create tension until the chorus hits and transforms the beat into a driven pulse, creating stability and space for Dennis’ ‘in the pocket’ vocal. ‘Drive’ was also selected by Red Bull Music Australia’s Top 20 Most Underrated Hip-Hop Song of 2020.
While the sound design of the bass within this record is absolutely flawless, I found myself entranced by the rhythm section of ‘On My Own’. Arguably my favourite track of the record, Dugong Jr. wraps up Pleasure Principle with the winner of Triple J Unearthed annual NIDA Music Video Competition. ‘On My Own’ immediately captures your attention through it’s warm, fluttering key’s progression and arpeggiating bass line. A staple of the artist’s instrument selection within the EP, the producer has approached the instrument choices and track list with attention to detail, tying each song into the next with familiar soundscapes.
Dugong Jr. is at the forefront of Australian electronic music, exuding DIY culture and simultaneously justifying the power of creative control. Keeping such a high level of attention to detail in more than just his music, the Melbourne-based creative shows exceptional prowess in both visuals and aesthetic as well. After making his debut in 2015, Dugong Jr. has amassed tens of millions of streams online, travelled the world and played some of Australia’s biggest festival stages. And now with the release of Pleasure Principles, the artist is quickly creating a legacy of innovation in post-modern electronic production.