Dust to Dust
by Brett Neely
Steve Roach and Roger King put their west foot forward in this 1998 release from the Projekt label.
Roach and King, venturing into Roach's Timeroom studio, unsure of what would result, and unaffected by pressure to produce a product, created this album anyway. Provoking memories of dust-clouded wagon trails and desolate ghost towns, DUST TO DUST speaks of tales real and imagined, as interpreted by these two musical journeymen.
Both Roach and King make their homes in the American southwest. Roach, a veritable electronic music legend, continually seeks adventurous new collaborations. In DUST TO DUST, he finds another plane on which to expand his musical experiences. He joins Roger King: friend, native Tucsonian, and guitarist. King formerly owned and operated Westwood Studios in Tucson, and currently runs a digital CD mastering studio.
Black and white photographs make up the cover and the background for the insert booklet. Cactus plants, an abandoned house, dusty paths, barren trees, and swirled clouds provide a visual base from which adventures have taken place.
Using guitars, a harmonica, a washboard, beer bottles, and various electronic instruments, Roach and King map their own territory with a unique style of music.
From the deterministic "Gone West" and the encouraging "Daze Wage," to the mysterious "Bigger Sky" and the almost subconscious "Lost and Forgotten," this cold yet heartful disc touches on many aspects of the high hopes and the utter despair of journeys west. The surreal environment of "The Ribbon Rails of Promise" speaks of the high hopes of the westward journeymen, sometimes leaving behind much more than they would recover.
Only one transition on this disc is flawed. In "Gone West," the opening track, at 1:07, the guitar makes an uncomfortable leap over a barren background accompaniment into a new section. This transition needs more force to hold the song together. Otherwise, the album is structurally sound. Musically, DUST TO DUST is raw and unpolished at times, without lacking strong production.
The cover art, the rough-edged music, the haunting melodies, and the precise studio work combine to make this a solid album.
DUST TO DUST provides music for voyagers, dreamers, and soul searchers. No matter where the journey may lead, this album provides the listener with more than enough head space for modern day contemplations.