Dumb Instrument – Backwards Is The New Forwards

Dumb Instrument is Scotland’s best-kept secret.

Ploughing a meandering furrow between the world of tragic comedy and chamber cabaret, the inventive and infectious Ayrshire bunch have delivered us their new EP, regressively entitled Backwards Is the New Forward.

A three track EP of heady substance, the interwoven and “smack in the face” humour of tracks like ‘Jaffa Baws’ and ‘Suffering From Scottishness’ yields to a dark, less obvious and more considered place.

In the opening and title track ‘Backwards Is The New Forwards’ we are immediately immersed in a dystopian landscape of existential desperation and resignation of a new insular reality.

A gloriously malevolent backdrop of bass and keys punctuated by strings and brass, match the raw lyric describing the day-to-day monotony of common existence and car crash voyeurism.

The song sleepwalks in a reversed structure with jarring strings reminding us that we are in no normal environment, all colluding to enhance the illusion of a life event running in reverse.

“At least I’ve found my way to get me through the challenge of each day” assures us that, although seemingly counter intuitive, moving backwards in this instance may indeed be progressive.

The black humour is ever-present as always and even a prophetic if reluctant sliver of advice to the ‘young team’ that “the backwards walk will come to them….” Is a stark reminder of what may lie in store.

An anthem for the misfit, the outsider and every one of us who has need for escape from whatever it is that bears down on us; Dumb Instrument at their absolute best.

‘Blin Bobette’ on the other hand begins with a techno samba syncopated infused surrealism which drives the entire song, a very interesting departure from what we have become used to from DI.

With spacey vocal and synth motifs deflecting from the driving heartbeat of the song, the emphasis here is one of dance/hip hop repetition, and suddenly I’m back in that old acid Jazz club in Brussels, which has so much to answer for.

Someone had some fun with the synth here, and the lyrics too…. Or am I too blind to see?

‘Shug’ in many ways returns to the format we have become accustomed to from Dumb Instrument, a formal if not conventional narrative, we return to where we were when I was when we were introduced to them all those years ago.

Sparse and with a pinpoint accuracy, they manage to punctuate note, voice and beat impeccably, with humour and pathos the recurring theme; and just for good measure, the twist in the tale or the crushing anti-climax.

Our best-kept secret indeed; there is a place out there waiting for Dumb Instrument, it’s called universal acclaim.

When eventually they collide backwards into each other and we all sit up and listen, I will cheer that the secret is out as enthusiastically as I will begrudgingly relinquish my misplaced sense of ownership.

Backwards Is The New Forwards by Dumb Instrument

Words: Bobby Motherwell

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