By Jim Merrett
If you were looking for the point furthest removed from Holy Fuck’s glitchy, pounding collage of DIY hypercolour krautrock, Dusted could be it. The band’s Brian Borcherdt presumably was, hence this side project. Stepping out from the homemade labyrinth of wires, keyboards and sequencers, Borcherdt has seemingly aped what LCD Soundsystem once prophesized in ‘Losing My Edge’: “throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real”. (But a Yazz record this isn’t.)
Then again, it’s not a total departure. Working here with Final Fantasy producer Leon Taheny, Borcherdt brings elements of his day job to the sphere of alt-country, with Total Dust still built (built being an operative word) around technology, a drum machine to replace Holy Fuck’s live drummer, and loops of noise. Rather, it’s a far more pared down, softer, personal experience, vaguely reminiscent of Boards of Canada’s toying around with acoustic guitars on The Campfire Headphase, but more like a garage record reply to Burial’s lonely trips on the night bus.
Sounding like it was recorded in a long-abandoned public toilet, the aptly named ‘All Comes Down’ sets the mood, wallowing as it does in grungy squalor. To say that it sounds warm and fuzzy shouldn’t suggest a feeling of contentment or coziness — rather that’s actually how it sounds, like a carton of milk left on a radiator, feeling sorry for itself.
But chisel away and a shimmering seam of beauty runs through the album. ‘(Into the) Atmosphere’ instantly provides hope, burbling like The Shins at a provincial village church fete while a Doctor Who prop buzzes in the corner. Further on, ‘Low Humming’ is a low-key one-man Fleet Foxes-like number, exposing a tenderness that would be difficult to harness amongst the commotion of Holy Fuck.
That tenderness could also be read as hurt, the aches and pains that run through this spine of this album, as in ‘Bruises’, the “don’t know why I bother / it happens all the time” of ‘Pale Light’, even the woozy My Bloody Valentine scuzz of “Property Lines”. Even the title track’s sluggish just woke up trot hangs its head in shame, wincing at what it did the night before.
Not that Dusted have anything to regret. Should this side-project dust itself off and try again, there will be no complaints here.