I’d never heard of Kyle Bobby Dunn. I had to look up his biography on Wikipedia, which led me to numerous quotes that praised the so-called child prodigy’s ten-year career. (Dunn is 25 years old.) So before even listening to the composer, I already knew that he’s highly acclaimed in the drone music community, and this info had to have subconsciously swayed my bias toward him. Yet considering I have no familiarity with drone music, other than from film scores and Radiohead’s Kid A-midpoint, “Treefingers,” I have nothing to which to compare this. So in that respect, my review is as unbiased as you can get.
Knowingly in this quandary, I decided the fairest way to review Ways of Meaning was to give it a bunch of listens and dwell on how it affected me throughout my day. (Normally, I critique by studying the artist’s message and then judging whether or not the music transcends past work. This formula couldn’t be done, however, since Dunn, a) doesn’t have lyrics, and b) has a ten-year discography that was difficult to access in such short time.) But at the end of three days and this project, my final grade was official: in all its ambient, minimalistic humming and wailing, Ways of Meaning has the same grace and fluidity of a rock concept album.
If “droning” can imply “boredom,” then perhaps Ways of Meaning should be moved to a more-uplifting category. Upon pressing play, Dunn’s music emits the sound one would get out of rubbing their licked finger around the rim of a wine glass…only it actually sounds soothing. It gives energy while running, yet at night it soothes you to sleep. It helps you to meditate while driving, yet it can alter your perception of a book while reading. That’s the complexity behind Dunn. He affects your mood strictly based upon the setting.
If I’m biased, then Kyle Bobby Dunn is only as good as what other critics say about him, which is that he’s a brilliant composer. But I don’t normally get swayed this deeply by other’s opinions; in fact, I usually critique things more harshly when praise is handed out consistently. So treat Dunn’s critics like you would Rotten Tomatoes: if a collective group of people agree something is good, it’s probably pretty damn good. You all rushed out to see Iron Man. Give Dunn a shot too.