Duster, Contemporary Movement (Up)

Posted August 31st, 2000 by admin

Contemporary Movement
By: Eric G.

This is the last band you’d expect a former member of Mohinder to be in. Or, maybe, this is the next logical step. Relentless noise has its limitations, but melody is expansive. Duster explores rock through drifting textures and lazy, laid back vocals. The guitar fuzz hangs overhead like an ominous cloud or like a quiet Bardo Pond song. Duster’s second album is a dark and atmospheric rock record, where you feel like you have to squint to see the beauty at the center of the haze.

Contemporary Movement has an immediate, almost live feel; it sounds like the band just set up a microphone in the middle of a big empty room and started playing. If it weren’t for the guitar overdubs, it would be hard to tell that it’s a studio product. For Duster vocals take a backseat to the sound of the music as evidenced by the band’s monotone delivery, which acts like a bored antagonist to the melodies. Every now and again the band attempts vocal harmonies, which drone sweetly beside the lingering guitar lines.

“Get The Dutch” is a sprawling opener, building tension and setting the scene for the murky soundscapes to come. The drummer pounds his repetitive and tribal beats while the guitarist clangs unsettling chords. The vocals don’t even start until the last minute or so. Very Cure. I wouldn’t associate Duster with the slowcore movement defined by the likes of Low and Codeine before them because even though the tempos are similar Duster’s sound is looser and more dangerous- as though the noise could erupt at any second.

“Diamond” lives up to its name with its detached vocals, sweetly melancholic melodies and a climax that makes the hair on your arms stand up. The lyrics are intelligible only at certain moments, keeping its air of mystery and sadness at bay. Musically, “Travelog” recalls the band’s instrumental alter ego Valium Aggelein. The bass and guitar interplay scuttles beneath a swirl of unending harmonics. The rough production gives it an added sense of intimacy.

From the catchy riffs in “Cooking” to the spooky half-spoken lull of “Contemporary Breakups”, Duster proves its no one-trick pony on song after song. The band’s sense of humor surfaces often enough to let you know that nothing here is sacred: “Goddamn I wish I was a little bit smarter” (“Contemporary Breakups”). The forcibly sarcastic inflection stretches into a tuneless drag in “Everything You See (Is Your Own)”, but the music compensates for the vocal shortcomings. If you give it your undivided attention, Contemporary Movement can suck you into its gorgeous hopelessness, but a casual listen would probably bore you to tears.

Tags: review