Eugene Dubon – Finish Line

Posted: 11 February 2023 in Albums
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Cruel Nature – 6th January 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

The blurb prepares us for what to expect by explaining that ‘Finish Line is the debut EP from Seattle ex-pat Eugene Dubon’ and promising ‘Seven tracks of rhythmic bass-heavy post-punk fuzz atmospherics, with Eugene’s musings on subjects such as the goldrush and clocks drolly delivered in a dead-pan style. Unapologetic and upfront.’

Only, it doesn’t fully prepare us, because Finish Line is quite extraordinary. In amongst the morass of post-punk-inspired bands and tunes, Finish Line stands out for actually living up to any hype.

The title track smashes it all together: a nonchalant, level spoken word piece is pitched against some layered guitar and swirling noise, but it’s the relentless hammer of the drum machine that defines the sound and sets the parameters for the EP’s six tracks.

‘Last Page’ has a different energy, with a piston-pumping mechanised drum – more Big Black than anything else – keeping things tight against a swirling array of guitar chimes and Dubon narrates from a point of clinical detachment, with ‘Cruising’ proving particularly punchy and percussion-led. And thinking as the album progresses, Dubon’s monotone vocal is more Steve Albini than anyone else: croaking, cool, sardonic, detached.

Dubon’s deadpan delivery renders this as much a set of spoken word backed by music, but it’s not easy to pitch anything overtly literary or spoken word. You kind of lose yourself to the point that the words drift away, the vocals becoming another instrument, and that’s largely on account of the sameness of the delivery, the flat, evenness of it all, his dry baritone isn’t given to variety of tone or pitch, but it very much works with his material.

Halfway through ‘State’, while revelling in the fractal guitars, it occurs to me just how much this calls to mind Kompromat, the most recent album by I Like Trains, and ‘Signpost’ built around a repetitive loop of programmed bass and drum sounds like Sleaford Mods on heavy tranquillisers., with haunting Cure-esque echoes drifting in and out to provide accent and detail.

Rounding off with the slow, gloomy, ‘Conversation With Jean Claude Batois’, we find Dubon wandering into territory that sits somewhere between The Doors and Beat Generation jazz-infused spoken word poetry. It’s not a race to the finish line, but a slow, smoky and soporific meandering towards it. But the change of tempo is well-times, after six back-to-back bangers propelled by piston-pumping beats and snaking chorus-coated basslines. And while Finish Line clearly does belong within that post-punk bracket, it also sets Eugene Dubon apart as having an individual take on the template.



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