[DISCO-HOP] While similarities between Onuinu (aka Dorian Duvall) and such electro-pop luminaries as Youth Lagoon, oOoOO and Washed Out can be easily established, Mirror Gazer, Onuinu's debut LP, proves that Duvall's songs owe their existence to a singular muse. Not only does this make Onuinu more interesting, it also goes a long way toward justifying Onuinu's rapidly expanding renown.
As it turns out, advance singles "Ice Palace" and "Happy Home" were but distilled examples of Duvall's aesthetic agenda. The gauzy synthesizers and pulsing drums exemplified by those songs run rampant across Mirror Gazer's nine tracks. Reverb, a favorite tool of Duvall's, makes a resounding return as well, lending the proceedings a sound suggestive of a rave taking place underwater.
However, close examination reveals that Duvall's beats include sophisticated nods to hip-hop, electro pop and house music, combined into a mixture that doesn't really fit among any of its source genres. Onuinu, which performs live as a three-piece, has adopted an ambient, almost somnambulistic mood as a stylistic signature on record, and Duvall has done a capable job of making that auditory house a home.
While "Ice Palace" remains the most immediately danceable of Mirror Gazer's offerings, tracks like "Always Awkward" and "Last Word" feature worthwhile variations on established themes.
On "Always Awkward," Duvall treats his subject to a typically disparaging analysis of, "You think you're such a star/ I know you really are/ Always awkward."
Mirror Gazer's lyrics often concern themselves with such sly commentaries on narcissism, love and the intermingling of the two. Regardless of your opinion of that source material, it's hard to argue that Onuinu hasn't done a fantastic job of bearing its musical testament.
SEE IT: Onuinu plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., on Thursday, Sept. 6, with Swahili, Strategy and John Maus. 9 pm. $15, or free with MFNW wristband. 21+.