Foto: City Slang

Herman Dune

Next Year In Zion [Rock / Alternative]

RELEASE: 19.09.2008

LABEL: City Slang

VERTRIEB: Universal


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On the new album Next Year In Zion, songwriter and vocalist David-Ivar Herman Dune and drummer Neman Herman Dune deliver a dozen charming and intricately constructed pop songs. Next Year In Zion is the Parisian duo’s debut long-player for the City Slang Label. It is the sound of Herman Dune, all grown up.

On the new album Next Year In Zion Herman Dune deliver a dozen charming and intricately constructed pop songs. Next Year In Zion is the Parisian duo’s debut long-player for the City Slang Label. It is the sound of Herman Dune, all grown up.

After years as a highly prolific, mostly DIY band, Herman Dune gained considerable cult status across Europe and in New York City, where the young band lived off and on for nearly 8 years. Releasing 5 official albums and distributing countless homemade CDRs at live shows, they found an early champion in legendary UK Radio DJ John Peel. The archive of Peel Sessions the band performed for the BBC number in the double digits. With their tireless work ethic, ramshackle shows in NYC artist squats eventually gave way to headlining sold out gigs at the 2,500 seat Olympia, in Paris. Tours with Arcade Fire, The Kooks and good friend Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches, Juno) put them in front of increasingly larger crowds, and even without a U.S. release to their names, Rolling Stone tagged “I Wish That I Could See You Soon” in their year-end list of the Top 100 Songs of 2007.

Frontman David-Ivar Herman Dune’s facility in bending the English language to his whims is impressive, given that he was raised in Paris but born in Stockholm of Swedish and Jewish descent. He learned American English playing chess with his grandfather, a Swedish diplomat who lived in DC, and began writing simple songs in English at the age of 11. There is sly playfulness and whimsy in David’s lyrical acrobatics (rhyming ‘coconuts’ with ‘cigarette butts’ and ‘Pelican’ with ‘Mexican’) and his phrasing and cadence pay tribute to songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jonathan Richman and Stephen Malkmus. On drums and percussions, Neman Herman Dune (who is Swiss born, but also raised in Paris) provides the steady heartbeat that syncopates David’s words and music. The elegant polyrhythmic thump hints at an affection for Charlie Watts, Can and Mo Tucker, and gives a buoyant foundation for David's chiming guitar. These two play off each other’s strengths with the familiar ease that comes from life-long friendship.

The songs on Next Year In Zion are warm and exuberant, and for the Dunes, true love is the salve for a world-weary cynic’s psychic wounds. In On a Saturday and When The Sun Rose Up This Morning the narrator’s heart is so full of love and hope, it threatens to burst at the seams. “It’s the first album that I write while I am happy,” says David. “I used to think I needed to be a little sad, or at least melancholic to write, this one proved me wrong…” His words distill innocent beauty from the prosaic and he crows about them with a joyous high lonesome timbre and soft accent. But Zion is not all California sunshine and paeans to falling in love. Even for a happy man, thunder clouds gather on the horizon. There is the lingering specter of loneliness (My Home Is Nowhere Without You) betrayal (Next Year In Zion) and an undercurrent that something much bigger than him is pulling the strings (Someone Knows Better Than Me).

On the recording, Herman Dune expand the core duo to include their extended family of female backing vocalists The Babyskins, The John Natchez Bourbon Horn players (on loan from Beirut and Arcade Fire) and guitar virtuoso Dave Tattersall (of UK band The Wave Pictures).

Engineered by Richard Formby (who also worked on of 2006’s Giant and 2004’s Not On Top) the sessions were recorded on a handmade, vintage EMI mixing board from Abbey Road once used by the Rolling Stones. “Richard played in Spacemen 3 for a while, and then in Spectrum. I love both projects and I've always admired the knowledge of Rhythm & Blues music they seem to have in the band. We met Richard at his studio when we were on tour, and he knew endless facts about Allen Toussaint, The Meters and Ska and Reggae bands. He never uses anything digital and could name all the equipment that was at Columbia Records or in Abbey Road.”

Self-produced over two weeks, Herman Dune chose to record the sessions live to analog tape at VEGA studios, in the French countryside of Provence, with every player working together in the same room. “The sound is a matter of choosing the musicians, the instruments, the room, and of the vibes that came from all these choices. Recording live makes everybody in the room focus on what makes the song sound right, instead of what their own part sounds like,” says David-Ivar Herman Dune, who’s ambitious methods recall American pop music icons like Lieber & Stoller, Phil Spector and Berry Gordy, Jr., who he counts among his favorite producers. “I think it's interesting how their music is still so intense, new and alive, decades after it was recorded.”

“I've always loved knowing how records I love were made, I love watching footage of The Beatles recording, seeing pictures of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed or The Doors in a studio. I've always gathered facts about how Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, Carole King and Shadow Morton got those songs to sound that good. I went to visit Motown in Detroit, and used to carry a picture of Sam Phillips in my textbook when I was a kid. Trying producing records myself is like trying all those toys and tools I've seen in pictures. It's a lot of fun....”

Next Year In Zion shows the Parisian duo at their most lyrically and sonically robust. Arrangements include as many nods to traditional Jewish and Eastern European instrumentation and Ennio Morricone’s desert vistas as they do to Chuck Berry and The Velvet Underground’s controlled cacaphony. The songs on Next Year In Zion reveal something new with each listen, and it’s the band’s most accomplished and complete offering to date.


1. My Home Is Nowhere Without You
2. Try To Think About Me
3. When The Sun Rose Up This Morning
4. When We Were Still Friends
5. On A Saturday
6. My Baby Is Afraid Of Sharks
7. Lovers Are Waterproof
8. Next Year In Zion
9. Someone Knows Better Than Me
10. My Best Kiss
11. Baby Baby You’re My Baby
12. (Nothing Left But) Poison In The Rain

(Quelle: City Slang, 2008)


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