Here is the premiere of ‘Black Dog’, the first single from Herman Dune’s highly-anticipated new album. This typically moody piece features the voice and guitar of David Ivar, who first started releasing music as Herman Dune in Paris over twenty years ago. Beginning with a DJ set and an open mic night featuring English language songs at The Pop In, Rue Amelot near La Bastillet, Ivar went on to record multiple albums and soundtracks and spent long periods on tour across Europe and the USA. That brings us to the new album, which is due for release in September. ‘The Portable Herman Dune Vol. 1’ is the first of three records that collect acoustic versions of songs from the last 22 years. Though they’re stripped back, the songs are no less emotive. In fact, the spare arrangements make them feel all the more dramatic and atmospheric.
‘Black Dog’ was inspired by a mysterious woman that Ivar saw walking her dog and his wild imagination conjured up a song with a supernatural feel and lycanthropic imagery. It’s a ghostly story, a suburban nightmare and Ivar’s gritty delivery and the raw-sounding production is perfect for this fantastic tale. With rhythm provided by foot-stamping and the dark lyrics almost spoken at times, the resulting song is bleak and haunting. Directed by Mayon Hanania, Ivar’s life-partner, the accompanying video was recorded in the same space and is equally moody.
Sonically, this raw recording of ‘Black Dog’, the first take on the song, was exactly what Ivar had in mind for the album: direct, real, flawed and imperfect. Ivar explains: “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. There’s something to a raw song that you can’t really beat. My favourite songs ones are the ones that made the cut as first takes. During the pandemic, I started to perform sets from my kitchen. A weekly rendezvous with my fans simply called ‘The Sunday Transmission with Herman Dune’. I’d typically do a 13-song set, read the horoscope, do raffles, and read poetry. It became the only way to express myself and do a set of consecutive songs. I got back in touch with my lyrics and voice. Playing from my own songbook was like re-discovering the tunes for the first time. Some songs really stood out as having gained strength and meaning, and I started thinking of recording them for an album. It felt like this was the way it should always have been. The more I recorded, the more songs I had on my hands, and I got more excited. I had more songs than could be listened to at once, and they were all so important to me, so I started thinking in Volumes.”
Of course, this sort of direct, acoustic delivery will be familiar to fans who have experienced these songs live and it seems natural to have them recorded in this way on an actual Herman Dune album. Look out for Herman Dune live at Union Chapel on 8th October. On a long autumn tour of Europe, that’s your one chance to catch the show in the UK and it’s Ivar’s first appearance on these shores since 2012. While you wait, absorb this.
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