The tragic flaw of many of the bands that set out to create something new is their lack of originality, their goals notwithstanding. Often the bands that meet with success in such an endeavor do so quite by accident.
In Cincinnati's rich musical community, Da LEMMINGS OnSombol stand alone in their ability to create rich textures and previously unexplored dynamics of genre. For those who haven't yet heard of the trio (John Gentry Jr. playing Novax Fanned Fret and Steinberger guitars, as well as bassist Andrew Scorti and drummer Tim Hensley), you're missing a band whose credentials suggest the need for a serious discussion regarding the rock you've been under. And yet, despite their track record, DLO still seems to be very much in the underground.
Pretty Music for Ugly People, the band's debut release in the recorded medium, is a brilliant work of art that will surely capture the ears of discerning listeners everywhere and help the band to command the respect they've already earned.
Although DLO is a three-piece, Gentry's use of loop sequencers and guitar synths allows for many different layers in the arrangements of their songs, examples of which can be heard on the song, "Surprised by the 3rd Time," which is constructed upon a dark, ambient groove, but opens up to a bright, sizzling melody section with the sequenced parts working together to energize the rhythm. Gentry's technical ability with the looping mechanisms also allows the band to display everything included on the album in a live setting, unlike some bands whose "unlimited" tracks on their recordings make for an extremely limited live performance. With DLO, you get everything and more than what is included on Pretty Music for Ugly People, such as organ, piano, vibraphone and endless other sound possibilities. All this from one of two of the strangest looking guitars you'll see on any dreadlocked guitar wizard, in the company of a Warwick bass on a stand (rather than on the shoulder of its player), and one of the most solid, efficient drummers taking up Cincinnati stage space.
With such a cosmically intense demeanor as DLO have musically, their appeal remains unclear. Is DLO one of those solo projects that only a musician would dig? Given the members' affiliations with other local and regional acts (like Nu Porno Nation, Heavy Weather and The Walker Project), this seems a fair question, however vague. But it's not the case, especially with songs like, "Klaw," which makes use of a tight Funk groove prone to cause crowded dance floors.
Much of DLO's other material begins with a Jazz-stuffed pocket, but abrupt intricate interludes and melodies, or tempo changing rhythms with thick consistency and peculiar overtones, make the band a fascinating spectacle to witness. Examples of their songs of this nature include the brilliantly arranged, colorful, "To Dre," on which Gentry's innate guitar playing ability shines in a fuming three-minute solo which builds to the song's sudden ending. The highlight of the album is the luminously arranged "Buddy's Bounce," which begins with a vivid, obscure melody (accentuated by Scorti's eccentric bass style, and Hensley's tight, proficient drumming), and morphs into a heady, rigid, tensely charged masterpiece.
What began for DLO as a series of improvisational, live experiments has grown to produce a strong first effort in the recorded medium, which stands to take the trio to the next level. So far, the band has enjoyed continued success, performing alongside some of the region and nation's veteran acts, while excelling at their masterful craft. Pretty Music for Ugly People (set for release later this summer) shows the sheer talent for creativity that DLO possesses, while representing the band's live feel accurately and providing a venue for three outstanding musicians to successfully produce original music. DLO gives audiences something new to appreciate, but their music asks that listeners place their focus beyond the ass-shaking potential and attempt to grasp the reality of the artform.
DA LEMMINGS ONSOMBOL Web site is www.dalemmingsonsombol.com.