Marathon – Dunlooser
The album Marathon is a brand new release from an unsigned artist who goes by the name of Kevin Sumner a.k.a. Dunlooser who happens to be a great talented musician and knows how to craft great songs and instrumental pieces. This particular album of his happens to be an instrumental one and very good one at that I will say.
I myself first stumbled across Kevin on Soundcloud a good 5 years ago now, and the output of his work has always pretty much impressed me. Besides being a one man operation sort of thing, and having the ability to be able to craft out the great material that’s on this album. Kevin has very much worked a lot in collaboration with another great musician and producer on Soundcloud who is Dave Friend, and also worked in collaboration with many others too.
Soundcloud I have always seen as a good vehicle to pick up things from, and I have always quite often found it to be good a learning curve myself, and have learned quite a bit myself from it. Though I have never seen myself as that great of a musician to do what the likes of these two guys can, and many others I have come to know over the years on it.
Just by listening to the great production Kevin has done on this first album he has just put out here, I can even see myself that Kevin has even learnt a lot from Dave Friend himself regarding the production we have here, and there is quite a difference from the production work Kevin used to do himself when I first came across him all those years back.
Previous Work/Influences & My Own Thoughts…
Over the many years Kevin has been playing, he has got to play in various bands and music has played a large part in his life. He will perhaps try his hand at most instruments but is mostly associated with stringed instruments, and I would think that the guitar and the mandolin are the type of instruments he enjoys playing the most.
Kevin very much started out playing the mandolin and even though he does play 6 string guitars, he also loves his 4 string tenor guitar as well. This fabulous live performance captures him playing another one of his many compositions on his Ashbury Tenor acoustic guitar.
Portsall is a beautiful instrumental piece that was inspired from the place he loves to visit on the Brittany coast. He has a great way of constructing fine melodies, and even though this piece of his is not on this album, there are many beautiful melodies on it.
No doubt like many of us Kevin has been influenced by many artists and bands during his lifetime, and he has quite a wide range of tastes too, and is fond of classical/folk/blues/rock/prog rock and no doubt a few other genres besides.
Over the time I have known him I got to notice his love for Mike Oldfield’s music and perhaps a lot of his influence has rubbed off on Kevin in some ways.
I also got to hear his own attempts of him doing Oldfield’s classic Tubular Bells and quite a few variations worked out around it over the years I first stumbled upon him. A lot of it would of been done many years before he joined Soundcloud as well, and would not have measured up to the more quality production I get to hear in his music these days.
I have always been quite a fan of Mike Oldfiled’s earlier works myself and I do get to hear his influence in some ways shine in Kevin’s music. Though I would say that some of Kevin’s own material is perhaps more based along the acoustic side of Oldfield’s works with albums such as Ommadawn rather than Tubular Bells.
I particularly like that side of Kevin’s music the most because he knows how to combine the acoustic guitar with the mandolin very well, and he knows how to structure some really great melodies with those particular instruments.
You can hear how well he has done so with the material he has made and put on this album Marathon. Only here he as also added some orchestration to it which gives the music a more sweeter refined edge to it, and it’s perhaps leaning now more to the genre of New Age rather than Oldfield’s Ommadawn which was more of your Progressive Rock or Art Rock so to speak.
The Album Marathon In Review…
The new debut album Marathon by Dun Looser was released last month on the 22nd November 2017. The album itself contains 7 instrumental tracks and has a very respectable total playing time of 41 minutes. The album as also been made in the form of a digital download only on Bandcamp and is currently priced up at 5 Euro.
The material that was written for the album Kevin would of wrote over the last 2 years or more and though many would associate the word “Marathon” with running and athletics, here it was inspired by the battle of the Marathon which goes back to ancient Greek times, and a book he had read written by Christian Cameron entitled Killer Of Men which was about the long war. Hence both the word “Marathon” and the names of the titles Kevin chose for the album tracks.
Though the music is inspired by some ancient long battle, it also has a lot of air and grace about it all. I have to confess that reviewing instrumental albums can be quite a task to take on, especially all the individual tracks. It would of been a lot easier to highlight the best tracks on the album on that score.
But I did find the titles quite interesting which led me to do a bit of research around the subject matter of them. So I got to learn a bit about Greek Mythology along the way. But I was never fond of history myself, but never the less I found it quite fascinating enough to include some of the background of it in the individual tracks has I went along.
Track 1. Ares.
The album opens up with a most beautiful well structured and very well written piece of music entitled “Ares“. Musically it contains some wonderful worked out melodies and the music is more or less structured around the use of percussion and fine orchestration. But for me the magic of it all is just how well Kevin has managed to work in his guitars and even his mandolin into the piece.
In Greek Mythology Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera and one of the twelve Olympians. He was also known as the God Of War. In Greek Literature he can be seen to represent the more physical violent untamed aspect of war. Though also in myth he can be seen as a man who faced a lot humiliation, and this may have been down to being on the losing side of the wars he thought in, including the Trojan War.
Ares: The God Of War
I would rather think that the music Kevin wrote to represent “Ares” captures not only his love of war and his many humiliations, but also Ares love for the goddess of love Aphrodite who was married to Hephaestus and the woman he was having a fling with at the time so to speak.
“Ares” is a really great track on the album and quite a strong contender for the top spot on the album.
Track 2. Doru.
Well I could be completely wrong with my own observation about the Greek word “Doru” that goes back to those ancient Greek times. But the word seems to relate to one of the weapons of war they used back then known as a Spear.
This so called spike was also capped on the end with a sauroter which in Greek stood for lizard killer. It also acted as a weight for the counter balance of the spear.
Whatever the “Doru” is in this case musically it tends to weave it’s way along in quite a charming way and has quite a European charm about it.
It’s another fine piece of music and even the mandolin Kevin plays on this one captures that European feel about. It also has not just a Greek feel about it but also a Persian feel to which Christian Cameron was also portraying in his first series of books entitled Killer Of Men.
Track 3. Istes.
On this one Kevin gets out his arsenal of weapons and goes into battle with an array of guitars ranging from electric, bass, acoustic and of course the mandolin. The music he crafts out for this one in particular in some of the more heavier melody lines, do have that Tubular Bells and Mike Oldfield flavour to them.
Musically the piece is more constructed from the instrumentation rather than around the orchestration, and it contains perhaps less orchestration. It portrays the character from Cameron’s book known as Istes very well. Istes was left to defend a city from a Persian invasion so to speak. He was of coarse outnumbered but he never gave in and fought in battle all day long.
During the battle he gathered many of the women and children onto ships so they could flee to their safety. The music perhaps portrays this side of the story with its more subtle side and the beauty in the orchestrated sections. Istes knew himself that he was never going to be able get aboard a ship to safety and dies in battle at the end of a long day.
“Istes” is another superb track on the album and happens to be my favourite and merits my top spot award.
Track 4. Kineas.
Quite a pleasant piece this one that builds its way along wonderfully. In some of the melodies it reminds me a bit like some of the great music Gordon Giltrap used to do back in the 70’s. It also has a really great striking middle section that it builds up to and then settles back into its theme to finish it all off very well.
The tyrant Kineas was seen as a semi-god by some and others a tyrannical monster according to Alexander The Great. He belonged to an elite Greek Companion cavalry unit fighting under Alexander. He was a guy who knew how to turn men into an effective army and proved to be very successful in the campaign in Asia Minor against the Persian Empire.
Track 5. Lesbos.
No tyrants and warriors here and Lesbos is one of the many Greek Isles although according to classical Greek Mythology Lesbos was the patron god of the island. But in Cameron’s book it is seen as the island of beauty and for its wealth and riches.
It’s another great track on the album that has a great upbeat about it with its chugging rhythm on the electric guitar and is accompanied by fine instrumentation throughout, and even features a rather nice organ on this one too.
Track 6. Trireme.
A Trireme is an ancient vessel or ship that was used widely in the Persian wars in which the Greeks won many a battle in them on the seas. The picture below displays a fleet of a modern fleet of Olympias Trireme’s that both the Persians and Greeks would of sanctioned at least 200 of them to be made for a battle.
This is another fine piece that is constructed from the percussion and orchestration that has quite a charm and European flavour about it. Kevin once again manages to work some wonderful acoustic guitar counter melodies around the main melody lines of the orchestrated piece.
Track 7. Marathon.
The final piece on the album is the self titled track “Marathon“. This one happens to be the longest track on the album weighing in at 10 minutes and 7 seconds and is an excellent piece of work and very well constructed composition.
“Marathon” without a doubt is very much another very strong contender for the best track on the album. It utilises and blends in the acoustic guitars and mandolins into the orchestration perfectly. It’s a superb way to end off a very enjoyable album too.
The album Marathon by Dun Looser is quite a fine solid body of work and very pleasing album with the well written material that is placed upon it. In a way you could call it a musical concept album made up of individual tracks and titles of them, that portrays the subject matter of Greek Mythology that Christian Cameron wrote in his book Killer Of Men.
Musically the way the album presents itself with the material we have here. It’s perhaps more of a charming and pleasant way to present the battles, rather than one with blood thirsty rage. There is nothing here perhaps heavy enough to put over a fierce battle. But that certainly does not take away anything away from how well the music comes across. There are many splendours to behold in its musical presentation and it’s great use of instrumentation.
The way it’s been orchestrated perhaps gives a contemporary classical feel to it, and the use of the guitars and mandolins gives it that more of a folky or celtic feel and vibe to it. Those latter instruments is where the real magic lies in how well they have been blended into it all. There is no doubt the album has been very well produced too and is certainly quite a splendid and enlightening album too.
To conclude my review of Marathon by Dun Looser. I would say that if your into the likes of Mike Oldfield. Gordon Giltrap and even Celtic music to some extent, this is the type of album that would fit very well in your collection. Though what I will also say that there is not just those influences here, and a lot of it has also come from Kevin Sumner himself, and he has done quite a remarkable job with the music he has presented here. Has debut albums go I honestly cannot fault it.
To be perfectly honest Kevin sent me this album and another one on CD has a good friend, and having heard this particular album it was me who suggested he put it up for sale on Bandcamp and gave him a bit of advice.
The price of 5 Euro is superb value for the money and there is no doubt the quality of the production and the material that’s upon it merits perhaps more than the price tag suggests. That much so that I brought it again. Not only to show my support, but because I genuinely love the album, and music this good needs to be paid for is how I really see it.
Kevin is a really talented musician with a gift. He has learnt a hell of a lot over the many years he has been playing instruments and writing songs and music. The album Marathon reflects a lot of his skills and talents and is a masterful piece of work and a very enjoyable album.
Check it out for yourself. It may just be what you was looking for…
You can listen to or grab your own personal copy of Marathon here : https://dunlooser.bandcamp.com/album/marathon
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. Ares. 5:36.
02. Doru. 4:13.
03. Istes. 7:21.
04. Kineas. 5:29.
05. Lesbos. 4:02.
06. Trireme. 4:13.
07. Marathon. 10:07.
2 thoughts on “Lee Speaks About Music… #46”
I follow Dunlooser on SC and had some contacts with his music over the last years. While some tracks he published there seemed not finished sometimes and more like sketches this album here is a different kind of beast. It’s damned perfect and build up with as much care as somebody is able to spend for music. The backbone is his very skilled work on the acoustic guitar (and the tenor guitar as I have learned meanwhile), but he manages it to build up wide and epic melodies upon it and creates marvelous arrangements with the addition of flute, drums and other instrumentations. He has a very good sense to avoid too much instrumentation and the variety of instruments keeps the songs fresh and interesting throughout. The overall spirit is very relaxed and uplifting as you would expect from somebody living within the nature and totally satisfied with his existence. I also appreciate the concept taken from the greek mythology, though I had imagined Ares as a more aggressive type of character 🙂 The beginning of “Lesbos” even reminds me on an acoustic version of “Whole lotta love”, what could be an ironic quotation. I am quite impressed by this work …
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Yes I think it’s a very well produced and arranged album. The music perhaps presents the sweeter side of war rather than the aggressive blood thirsty battle that perhaps Metal would hammer home.