Dopapod’s REDIVIDER Review

New Album being released December 21, 2012

written by Elise

The first time Taco and I saw Dopapod we were practically ushered to the stage by an excited friend from New York City who would not let us miss their set.  We were at Gathering of the Vibes 2012 and it was a lovely warm late afternoon, we had a couple of cocktails in us and were ready to hear some new music.  We were instructed to sit on a tapestry and wait, our toes curling with anticipation.  The first few guitar licks of “Eight Years Ended” had us intrigued, and as Neil “Fro” Evan’s drums kicked in and the weird wacky noises of Eli Winderman’s moog wailed “Wee-oooh, wee-ooh, wee-aaah,” we were instantly brought to our feet to bop along with the music.

The whole set was certainly an eye opener for us and songs like the 11 minute jam “My Elephant Vs. Your Elephant” got me hooked.  Their sound was not so much a jump on the “jamtronica” bandwagon as one would expect from the four-piece that loves to incorporate weird robot noises and rattling bass, because their constant time changes and unexpected breakdowns set them way apart from other “four-to-the-floor” predictable jamtronica bands.  On the way home from the festival we downloaded their albums “Drawn Onward” and “I Saw Live Dopapod, Evil Was I,” which is when I discovered that a couple of the songs I heard, including “Elephant” and “Braindead” had not yet been recorded on an album.  Believe me, I had plenty of tasty treats on the two released albums to please my appetite, but I knew that showing up for their live shows would be the only way to satiate my hunger for the entire Dopapod palette.

I was extremely excited to see some of my favorites from their live shows on the new album REDIVIDER, being released in typical palindrome fashion on December 21, 2012 (12/21.)  During our interview with Dopapod, Taco jokingly insisted that we get a taste before the release date in case the Mayans were correct in their doomsday prediction.  The band generously delivered and the Jamwich is happy to give you, the readers, an enticing little description just to get you that much more anxious about the impending doomsday!

Unlike Drawn Onward, which starts with what seems like a song already in progress (probably a clever nod to their “endless loop” palindrome theme,) REDIVIDER uses some scene setting with its opener, “Build an Android.”  The sound can be best described as a spaceship organ, as if Eli’s moog was being hurled through space while playing at an earth-shattering frequency.  The album instantly takes on a creepy space odyssey feel, continued into the next song, “Braindead.”  The song starts with a scratchy old recording of an accordion, and you can visualize a mad scientist playing the instrument idly in his laboratory.  The song quickly progresses into a metal-rock guitar riff and a killer bass beat, Eli’s signature “Wee-oooh” of the Moog, and then some rarely heard vocals about tiny little beetles, burning trees, parasitic viruses, and possible amputation.  The setting hasn’t left that mad scientist’s laboratory and we can practically see sparks and smoke from his equipment.  I have heard some Dopapod fans remark that they could live without the band’s vocals, but I personally think they layer seamlessly and really get the story across.

The next song “Bubble Brain” is without vocals and is instead driven by Rob Compa’s slow, almost sentimental picking of the guitar and a thumping drum beat.  The song then breaks into upbeat chords that remind me of their song “Flipped” from Drawn Onward.  Slowing down into melodic breakdowns with Eli’s playful tinkling of the keyboard and then building back into the dramatic four piece jam, the song is certainly a feel-good tune that puts a smile on your face.  The tracks are transitioned by an ambient interlude “Get to the Disc.” The space ship we’ve been traveling on disappears into space and we are brought back to earth by the funky fan favorite “Trapper Keeper.”  There’s a rarely a Dopapod show attended where at least one screaming fan pleads for the song, and the band is usually happy to oblige.  Eli and Rob’s vocals croon “Can we play a new game?  Look inside my Trapper Keeper.” The song definitely has a get-stuck-in-your-head quality that their listeners can’t get enough of.

I find “My Elephant Vs. Your Elephant” to be one of their more jam-oriented tunes, as the ambience and depth transports us into an instrumental story.  It’s the closest the band gets to “space” in a song, but don’t get too relaxed, they eventually break right back into their signature high-energy jam towards the end for an epic drum-pounding finish.  Another interlude “Ooze Weapon” continues the space odyssey setting they create throughout the album.  The next song “Blast” gives us a super funky groove to bop our head to, keeping the breakdowns and solos completely unpredictable in typical Dopapod fashion.  As an avid “French Bowling” fan, “Vol. 3 #86” caught my attention from the beginning with the weird little riff that Eli and Rob harmonize, and then surprises us with Chuck’s funky bass taking them seamlessly into a smooth dub beat and even smoother vocals.  The song is nothing sort of epic and makes me want to periodically do the robot dance and then a dub groove over and over again.

The capitalized letters in “STADA” seem appropriate, as it is a heavier, louder tune with a hard-hitting beat accompanied by floor rattling Moog noises to please those with an electronic appetite.  The bass guitar-heavy “Give it a Name” is a rare lyric-driven song and the most traditionally rock sounding on the album, but keeps its Dopapod flair with a sprinkling of funky riffs.  “Fry the Gorilla” is an interlude consisting of drum beats in so many unexpected tempos that it makes your head spin, getting you nice and ready for their big finish of the album “Weird Charlie.”  This song is probably my favorite song on the album and favorite song to hear live (though I’ve only heard it once so far!), as you are introduced with an upbeat chorus hook, and then taken up and down through intricate, impressive jams. It reminds me of the song “2001: A Space Odyssey,” in that it consists mostly of various instrumental showcases and a wide range of riffs and beats, but the bright, happy chorus is met with involuntary grinning when the hook appears.  Each musician gives it their all in this song and the excitement builds to breaking point.  As the song ends we are left stunned and smiling, and craving more.  Can I hear that hook just one more time, guys?  Thank goodness I can always press repeat on my music player, but I’m picturing myself in front of their stage in the future screaming “More!”

So whether the 21st passes quietly or there is chaos in the streets, make it a point to add REDIVIDER to your bug-out pack!