“Working To Design” is the project by solo artist DUNKIE, otherwise known as Anthony Price. It is an album that feels like a long lost pal on first listen, but such is the warmth, stark realism and relatability it’s more like your best mate once you’re a few listens in. It is a 17-track album that leads you on a multitude of journeys from mountainous highs to earth shattering lows through hope, despair and anguish.
Too much? Not at all. It’s all that and so much more, in fact so much that I know whatever my fingers type, justice won’t quite be done. It is an expansive, finely crafted piece of work that would be recognised as a magnus opus for many an artist far more famous and revered than Mountain Ash’s DUNKIE.
“Working To Design” has the feel of a community album about it, backed up by the fact that a total of 33 friends played on it, including producer Wayne Bassett. Anthony hasn’t been slow in his praises for Wayne and cites him as an important influence in crafting a sound that manages to sound minimalistic yet grandiose at the same time. A juxtaposition that will become much clearer once listened to.
Prior to the release of the album we already had an idea of the quality DUNKIE could conjure up with the release of four singles, all taken from the album. “Rabbit Hole”, “W.A.L.L.S”, “Sugar” and the epic “Can a Song Save Your Life” all served as a taster for what was to come, however as fantastic as those four songs are, the album doesn’t need to lean on them, in fact there is nearly enough material to fill two albums loaded with quality.
For all of the albums many highlights, the crowning glory and centrepiece, for me at least, is track 10 “1896”. With its magnificent brass led two-and-a-half-minute intro it soars before reflection, a common theme on the record, takes centre ground. The track makes a comeback for album closer under the guise of “Closure 1972”, a stripped back piano led version, played by John Barnes and sung by Jennifer O’Neil Howard. Although initially having a reprise feel, the song takes its own path and provides a fitting conclusion to an emotionally charged record.
Aside from “1896” and the aforementioned singles, another highlight is the sprawling “I Don’t Want To Die In Minnesota (Part II)”. It’s the many highlights like this that makes the album not only a brilliant listen, but paradoxically difficult to review. There’s just so much to write about!
Such is the often upside-down world of the music industry, it is highly probable that “Working to Design” won’t get anywhere the attention it deserves, in fact that’s pretty much impossible. It is clear though, that it will bring joy to those lucky enough to not only listen to the album, but fully immerse themselves in what is an entirely wholesome experience.
DUNKIE has ambitions to tour the album with a full band in 2020 and the prospect of seeing the album brought to life is one that excites me. For now, though, I will happily continue to indulge myself in this wonderfully layered creation. And so should you!
“Working To Design” was released right at the end of 2019. It is available to purchase on Bandcamp, where you can download a 48 page PDF inlay*. It is also available on streaming sites such as Spotify. The album will be released in physical form in February, keep your eyes peeled for this and further DUNKIE updates on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
*The singles, and the entire album artwork, features the work of the critically acclaimed Welsh Group Elect and National Eisteddfod of Wales award winning South Wales Artist, Michael Gustavius Payne.
Top album picks (subject to change):
“The White Hole”
“Can A Song Save Your Life?”
“I Don’t Wanna Die In Minnesota (Part II)”