Advertisement

Album Review: Dana T’s ‘tiny mind MASSIVE soul’


Dana T - tiny mind MASSIVE soul
Listen to more music by Dana T at danatelsrow.bandcamp.com.

DANA T

tiny mind MASSIVE soul
www.danatelsrow.com

Popular music is a tug of war between artistic and commercial concerns, and at the center of it all lays genre. For an artist, genres have stylistic signifiers and limits. A great musician can make punk rock that is satisfying and original within those limits, but if he or she adds a sitar or using diminished 13th chords, it usually stops being punk rock.

Then there’s Dana Telsrow. When it comes to genre, as the kids say: I can’t even. It’s rock music, but with constant tempo changes, unpredictable harmonic progressions, five piece horn section arrangements, and his restless lyrical imagination. There is historical precedence, in the form of the ’60s Marin county band Sons of Champlain, but only old weirdos like this author have actually listened to them. Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks come to mind as well, but Dana T substitutes something more sophisticated and puzzling for their addictive pop sweetness.

Dana T (like his collaborator/co-conspirator saxophonist Curt Oren) has a reputation as a prankster and goofball, but on tiny mind MASSIVE soul, he seems deadly serious. On the title track, he sings “Tune to the universe, and the universe will tune to you,” and in “Crosswalk,” he says “I’ll become a fixture of my City: A favorite faucet, dripping all night long.”

Where his last album, abbr. relation, was more whimsical, these songs are unambiguously sincere. That kind of earnestness can be deadly, but luckily Telsrow’s inventive mastery of instrumental textures ground his compositions in something less abstract and more inviting. The intertwining chromatic squiggles of “Who You” seem like he’s following 20th Century composer Charles Ives down his rabbit hole.

Dana T packs as much complexity and moony mysticism into these songs as he can, and there’s a musical depth that rewards repeated listenings. His music has an internal logic that can take a while to enter into, but it’s worth the effort. It’s not often you can find music that draws you in, even as it baffles you.

This article originally appeared in Little Village issue 187.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

World of Bikes presents:

KEEP ROLLING THROUGH THE WINTER

Come talk with our experts about ways to stay on the bike this winter! Find out more at World of Bikes.

Get Started

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.