Dusted Reviews

Dino Felipe - No Fun Demo

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Dino Felipe

Album: No Fun Demo

Label: No Fun

Review date: Sep. 9, 2008

Given the respective pedigrees of Miami wild-child Dino Felipe and NYC noise stable No Fun Productions, I certainly had my assumptions about Felipe’s full-length debut for the label. Since the late ’90s, Felipe has released a dizzying amount of laptop dementia, most notoriously for his glitch-infested pop demolition on Schematic Records. His eclectic absurdism has made it difficult to pin him down as an artist, flaunting a bevy of personae and styles that have birthed legions of neon-coated offspring: from the florescent synth-crunk of Finesse + Runway, to the drug-addled assault of FKTRN.

The more punishing and volatile of his digi-compositions (such as 2005’s I’m You) would seem right at home on fellow Miami native Carlos Giffoni’s imprint – one of the subterranean leaders in grimy electronics. He’s even been a regular collaborator with Giffoni via the cut-up noise project Old Bombs. With that in mind, I expected a similarly chaotic offering from Felipe here … but found quite the opposite to be true. No Fun Demo actually reveals Felipe’s forays into lo-fi psych-pop, collecting a smattering of tracks he’s been recording at home since 2001. The deranged quality, feedback fits and overall disorientation of the individual songs lends the record its oblique match for the No Fun roster, though still comes off a bit baffling in the context of Felipe’s previous work.

That’s not to say that No Fun Demo is without charm; fans of the Ariel Pink school of muddled pop collage will no doubt delight over Felipe’s tunes, which maintain a detached appeal for the stoned loners. But while Pink is notorious for diggin’ on the dial a tad too erratically, Felipe remains more focused throughout the record, shifting seamlessly between no-wave throwbacks and hazy guitar ditties. It would be appropriate to speak of Felipe’s songwriting skills, but such an assessment is near impossible, as most of the album’s lyrics are obscured beneath varying levels of pitch-shifted delay and murky production aesthetics. From what I can make out, most tracks touch on love-lost pessimism delivered in a glitter-gone-shoegaze hybrid, complete with an often sexually-ambiguous vocal approach. Felipe even covers a track from the destructo-glam anthems of Mike Watton’s Haunted House moniker through his version of "Chandeliers," with staccato piano chops driving the teenage screech.

Felipe certainly excels with No Fun Demo in terms of crafting lysergically-damaged bedroom rock. But it’s here that the main problem arises: Endearing though they are, the songs seem to take a step back in Felipe’s oeuvre, shackling him more to musical modes of the ’80s and ’90s instead of pushing the envelope with his knack for computer-crafted delusions. Sure, it’s a noble trend in the underground to resist digital recording techniques in favor of analog technologies, but in Felipe’s case, the shift toward a somewhat more traditional song structure on No Fun Demo betrays the electronic innovation that he’s displayed on recent releases. Last year’s Kinks EP (available for free download via Clinical Archives) and even his latest effort, Personality Crisis, exhibit the pop prowess that Felipe reaches for here, but effectively mangles the formula through hacker code and circuit-board crackle.

Keeping the "demo" part of the record’s title in mind, Felipe’s songs are quite beautiful, growing warmer and more personable with each listen. But on the other hand, No Fun Demo emerges as a bit of a disappointment because it throws Felipe’s cyber-DIY direction in reverse, forsaking in-your-face digital displays for a more subdued take. The blurb on the label’s website hails the record as "pop music of the present," but No Fun Demo waxes too nostalgic for that to be entirely true. In the end, I’m left wishing that Felipe had attempted to channel the future instead.

By Cole Goins

Other Reviews of Dino Felipe

Dino Felipe as Flim Toby

Read More

View all articles by Cole Goins

Find out more about No Fun

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.