Everyday Dust :: Multā Nocte / Combinatio Nova (Sparkwood)

Everyday Dust appears to be working on a Dustworks series, the first two EPs of which were released in mid-May. Multā Nocte and Combinatio Nova exemplify what I consider to be Dust’s trademark sound: far-stretching synth noise that borders on wind, and somehow sounds like a distant sandstorm in a sweltering midsummer while simultaneously sounding like snowfall outside the window in the dead of night. These EPs may be exemplars of Dust’s sound, but they also differ enough from his debut album, The Principality of Dustland, to give listeners a taste for how much variation is possible against the familiar background. This is especially true of the collaboration and remix tracks.

Everyday Dust :: Multā Nocte / Combinatio (Sparkwood)

Norway’s Sparkwood Records has curated a roster of artists who specialize in a very specific kind of ambient. Musicians like Everyday Dust, who has perfected drone with a hint of lo-fi, whose beautiful and eerie music calls to mind a Tibetan monk, working at his bowls long after the bombs have fallen and, lungs thick with radioactive soot, maintain his solemn practice until the world’s end. Everyday Dust’s debut album absolutely blew me away, and I have since been champing at the bit—and annoying him on Twitter—for news on new material. His reply did not disappoint.

Multā Nocte, according to Everyday Dust, is a “collection of works inspired by those strange and compelling hours when the world is quiet and the owls are out. That period of time between the darkness of the night and the light of day that always seems to spark the imagination.” It features 4 new solo tracks and 3 collaborations, lasts about 30 blissful minutes. “Nocternion,” the opening track, is that storm I came to know and love, with wind that rages through chimes and long-lasting, subtly shifting strings that morph into voices, and back into strings. “Desert Fog,” a collaboration with Western Skies Motel, is a swaying piece that opens with high, piercing strings and brassy clangs, but swiftly brings in an electric guitar, plummeting, gated synths, and a central, rhythmic melody that recalls the “error message” that was so prevalent in Principality. “Nevermore” is a collaboration with Above, Convenience Store! and bears a strong Dustian bent at its core. It may well have been named for Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven—I didn’t ask—and it sounds, perhaps, like acceptance of an inevitability. At the opening of the track, we’re confronted with a harsh reality, and then we make gorgeous art from what’s left to us. Lightly arpeggiated guitars lead to rising waves of distortions that overtake and then back away from the rest of the track. An Everyday Dust solo piece, “The Stonemason’s Vigil,” follows, with a bellow from a woodwind that leads into an excellent melody that sounds like a harmonium. It’d be equally appropriate over black-and-white footage of glaciers, or of Kaneda on his motorcycle in the middle of Akira. Such is the versatility of the sound. “Chapter House,” another solo piece, exercises no restraint on the keys of that same harmonium, and leaves eerie near-silence in its wake before returning to its harrowing organs. “Beacon Blues,” a piece with Oberlin, calls to mind a bazaar, of sorts. A bazaar on a colony planet far, far from “civilization.” Finally, “Coda” bookends the EP, rising subtly in energy, and reminds me of the type of soothing sounds that accompany a guided meditation. This isn’t to devalue “Coda,” however. It’s a lovely way to close an excellent EP.

Combinatio Nova features 7 remixes of original Everyday Dust pieces from John Lemke, Zenjungle, Panama Fleets, The Elephant Frame, Tafandja, Western Skies Motel, and Drust IV. Each of these artists brings a refreshing and original perspective to the original tracks. Some of the remixes, like “Mantra,” offer a totally unexpected (but welcome,) angle on Dust’s music, where we’re hit with an easy groove—the type of house that might be playing over one of the darker scenes in The Animatrix. (Lots of references, I know.)

The great thing about Combinatio Nova is that it gets down into the variability of sounds. Everyday Dust’s music feels like such a solid unit, and it can be hard to imagine where one might break apart the component pieces, since each is so subtly woven and integral to the sound as whole. These skilled musicians have done just that, and added their own spin, breathing different life into the music. All of the remixes are rock-solid, and while I enjoyed them, I have to admit they made me crave the unfiltered stuff—I turned back to Principality once the EPs were done, and found it to be just as wonderful as before. These new EPs fit in well with the canon, though, and make me very excited for the next release in the Dustworks series.

Multā Nocte and Combinatio Nova are available on Sparkwood.

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