Dntel is the project of Jimmy Tamborello, former guitarist of Strictly Ballroom
and brain behind Figurine's synth-pop effort Transportation + Communication = Love (1999).
Dntel was revealed to the world by the album
Early Works For Me If It Works For You (Phthalo, 1998) and the
EP Something Always Goes Wrong (2000), that had originally been
recorded in 1994.
Tamborello used laptops to craft the charming folk tunes of
Life Is Full of Possibilities (Plug Research, 2002 -
Sub Pop, 2011) and immerse them
in a glitchy soundscape (notably The Dream Of Evan And Chan,
a collaboration with Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard).
Early recordings were collected on the triple-disc
Something Always Goes Wrong / Early Works For Me If It Works For You / Early Works For Me If It Works For You II (Plug Research, 2010) .
The Heartfelt (March, 2005), credited to Figurine, was an exercise in
retro electronic pop that blended techno and synth-pop of the 1980s.
Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake (Plug Research, 2006), credited to
James Figurine (yet another Tamborello persona), is vaguely reminiscent of
New York's electroclash school
(Fischerspooner and the likes) but more
obviously related to Euro-disco-pop.
Dntel's Dumb Luck (Subpop, 2007) veered towards Figurine's more
accessible sound, leveraging a cast of distinguished vocalists (notably
Mia Doi Todd
in Rock My Boat). But the protagonist was still the
arsenal of electronic and digital devices employed by
Tamborello to sculpt beats and soundscapes, something akin to the role of
the producer in crafting the aural context of a hip-hop rap.
The style of the songs ranged from rock'n'roll to country to pop ballad,
but they sounded cohesive and uniform because they all sprang from the same
Dntel's Aimlessness (2012) lacked both the magic of his best productions
and the class of guest vocalists.
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