It somehow seems fitting that San Jose slowcore outfit, Duster, would come back from the dead to release an album on the penultimate day of the decade. Nearly 20 years since their last LP, it’s a move that reflects the same elusive and distant feeling their music evokes.
Like Duster’s two previous albums, Stratosphere and Contemporary Movement, the tonal theme of outer space is heavily present and with the opening track ‘Copernicus Crater’, that theme is picked right back up. Setting out the cosmic manifesto early on with a driving bassline and a gloom laden guitar that really makes you feel like you exploring an other worldly geographical feature.
Tracks like ‘Hoya Paranoia’ and ‘Summer War’ sparkle like roman candles filmed in super 8, burning slowly letting the album breathe. The lyrics on ‘Duster’ are more like communications back to a command module, sparse and technical, whispered into the mic with downbeat procession. Lyrics such as those on ‘I’m Lost’ – “Don’t you know I’m lost without you here” – framed by screeching feedback make for a more unconventional sort of love song.
‘Ghoulish’ wouldn’t be out of place on an Radiohead’s Amnesiac, while ‘Letting Go’ makes its case as one of the strongest tracks of its kind of the whole decade. Closing track, ‘The Thirteen’ reverberates with solar waves of warm guitars, sounding like the record they may play in the departure lounge for commercial space travel.
On the first few listens, this record would appear samey with little change to song formula. However, given time, Duster reveals subtle beauty from track to track making it an album that feels cohesive and worthwhile. It is an immersive and introspective record on a supermasssive scale, shimming and chiming its way into deep space. We can only hope it’s not another twenty years before they return. Patrick Hughes