Reviews Search

Dwarr, "Animals"

In 1986, Duane Warr retreated to his trailer home with an 8-track recorder to make an album which turns out to be a bit more than a doom-laden, cartoonish amalgam of the antics of everyone who has played air guitar in just their underwear during a dark night of the soul.

Drag City

Animals - Dwarr

Warr's 1984 psych-drone debut Starting Over was ignored and his attempts to make country music also got nowhere. A couple of years later, someone pulled a blade on him at his factory workplace and he apparently went home in an enraged state, and had a dream where he wreaked vengeance and devoured human flesh and bones. Animals is his attempt to make sense of the dream. Anvil, eat your hearts out.

The first 70 seconds of the title track will be enough for most listeners to either embrace (or be repulsed by) the ridiculous beauty of Dwarr. Grunts and howls and squealing synths preface plodding sub-Sabbath earnestness. Actually, a glance at the album cover may be all that is needed: Warr in bare-chested He-Man pose, sword aloft, snake wrapped around his leg, human skull nearby, cannibals feasting, a partially submerged Statue of Liberty in the middle distance and a crumbling city on the horizon.

Animals is a subterranean impression of 1970s progressive rock; and a bleary crude blueprint for a psychedelic version of doom-metal. Key track may be "Are You Real" with its chorus of "Christ, Christ are you real?" sounding as much an unfortunate cry of sexual passion as the anguished plea of a man on the cusp of the spiritual transformation which would occur as Duane Warr found God (or vice versa). "Lonely Space Traveler" has a contrasting slower pace that is not so much relaxed as completely over-medicated; with Warr singing a standard rebuke to the human failure to treat all hobos as if they could be the messiah (or words to that noble effect).

This project might be called "outsider art" but I don't care for the way that somewhat patronizing term can label artists eccentric or mentally ill as a way of stimulating interest. Animals is an oddity, but it represents an honest attempt to document some weird feelings with what the artist had at hand: a few instruments, fierce motivation and less than state-of-the-art technology. That said, Duane Warr is now a realtor and I can only hope he never sets out to record an album about that.