The Principality of Dustland
Though a narrative is more implied than explicitly laid out by The Principality of Dustland, the ten-track recording nevertheless exudes the character of a prog-like concept album, an impression further reinforced when its track titles are referenced within an accompanying text by Martin Drust that evokes H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in its account of a hot-air balloonist's journey to the titular Principality.
Issued on the Norway-based Sparkwood Records label, The Principality of Dustland is the full-length debut by Everyday Dust, an experimental composer and ambient music producer who apparently wishes to keep his real name under wraps. Like many an ambient producer, Everyday Dust has a penchant for hazy atmospheres and melancholy moods and a soft spot for “tape-saturated textures, serene organ parts, drones, field recordings, and transformed acoustic instruments.” But consistent with a label whose desire is for material that's “divergent and original,” Everyday Dust's music doesn't slot itself into any one genre quite so easily.
Certainly there's no small amount of evocative atmosphere permeating the forty-six-minute album's tracks, but their concerns extend beyond mere atmosphere. They're compositions, not soundscapes, that place an equal amount of importance on melody and sound design (see “Ticking Heart” and “The Lantern Room” as especially fine illustrations). To Everyday Dust's credit, The Principality of Dustland is also less derivative than the debut album norm; if there's one artist infuence hinted at by the music, it's Boards Of Canada, largely because of the woozy analog synthesizers that occasionally surface, and traces of kosmische musik also emerge, but traces only.
Sprinkled as it is with surface crackle and bell tinklings, the music's ultra-dense and dramatic without being pretentious or overblown, and each setting is rich with detail. As a representative example, “Ferryman's Toll” conjures an air of gothic mystery, menace even, especially when its bells and voices seem to resound from within a thick mist. As an exercise in sound design, the word the album calls to mind is exquisite. Drust's “Dustland-Beyond the Capital” text concludes by describing The Principality of Dustland as “an enchanted landscape, an intoxicating blend of exotic sound”—words that hold up as equally applicable to the producer's debut outing.