Dust to Dust
by Jeff Berkwits, Illinois Entertainer
The rolling tumbleweeds, barren landscape, and hardscrabble lifestyle of the Old West have inspired thousands of melodies over the past 100 years, from timeworn washboard ditties to contemporary compositions like Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western scores. Venerable ambient artist Steve Roach has taken an innovative approach to this age-old motif, teaming with guitarist Roger King to devise a truly original aural interpretation of the wild, wild West.
The nine haunting tunes, which combine guitars and electronic processing with harmonicas, percussion, and various other noisemakers, evoke powerful images of dilapidated homesteads, foreboding conditions, and most importantly, a diehard pioneer spirit. "Gone West" is a soft, echoing tune that opens the disc in a spectral manner, offering an attractive-yet-dolorous dirge for the region's long-dead settlers. Other standout cuts include "A Bigger Sky," with its ghostly chants and hypnotic melody, and "Rain And Creosote," an atmospheric creation that mixes reverberant riffs with the eerie effects of a desert deluge.
The Arizona-based Roach and longtime Tucson resident King have clearly allowed the sounds of the Southwest to seep into their souls. The duo's appreciation for their historic surroundings imbues the songs with authenticity and substance. DUST TO DUST is remarkably intellectual and undeniably intriguing.