Looking at the cover of this CD, i would assume
that Dream Into Dust are an industrial dance band. I would lump
them into a convenient category with Front Line Assembly, Front
242, and Skinny Puppy. (NOTE: Okay, so i stopped listening to
this stuff in the early 90's, and my impressions of the genre
are frozen in time ten years back. I think the band Apoptygma
Berzerk are the band in this genre that the kids are listening
to these days. Whatever.)
Popping the CD into the player, the first track features a
low, rumbling synth drone of vaguely sinister tone layered deep
underneath a charming synth string melody. Nicely done, but
exactly what i expected. The next track sounds like the unholy
lovechild of Depeche Mode and Skinny Puppy: glitched beats,
hammer/construction samples looped as rhythm, strings, and overblown
vocals. Right. Got it. Decent enough stuff, some moments of
real niceness, but overall i just don't listen to this stuff
anymore. Not bad though.
Then, just to keep me on my toes, Dream Into Dust do something
unexpected, one of them picks up an acoustic guitar, and the
next track features lightly strummed guitar over crunchy beats,
and the vocals suddenly sound less Dave Gahan and more Thom
Yorke. I really don't know if it is simply the context, or if
the vocalist is using his voice slightly differently, but there
is a noticeable change. This is actually a pretty good tune.
The tone is Ok, Computer era Radiohead, while
the music is Kid A
era. Plus they add in synth strings, and a really nice drum
breakdown at the end. A very nice tune, and what is even better
about it is that it mixes things up. Rather than just lolling
within the confines of their genre (which i want to call industrial
dance, but which a quick search on AllMusic
tells me is called Electronic Body Music (EBM) these days. Those
wacky kids!), Dream Into Dust are keeping it contemporary and
drawing in other influences. Well, a Radiohead influence, but
it seems hard to escape that these days.
And they do it well. Just like How the Roses Burned
(the tune i just described), the vocals really hit a level of
Yorkishness on Distant Horizon. And Internal Return
is a really good, loud, building, dramatic tune of the type
that, while not exclusively the property of Radiohead, has been
well done by them of late.
Now, that is not to say that Dream Into Dust are abandoning
their EBM roots. Black Ice is a wall of grating, pulsing
noise, and The Lathe of Heaven is a dark ambient piece
with mopey samples from the movie of the same name. So there
is variety, and on the whole, it works. I find that The
Lathe of Heaven drags a bit after a while (it is 6 minutes
long, which is a long time for a textureless drone and distorted
vocal samples!), but the rest of it flows nicely.
I do want to point out the crowning moment on the disc, Wrong
Side of the Glass. This is a tight, mid-tempoed rocker.
Electronic noises simmer in the background, but the guitar is
nice and distorted. The voice is different, i am not sure if
someone else sings this one, but a good vocal reference point
is Bauhaus-era Peter Murphy. Not that this voice is deep and
rich like Murphy's, but the style of enunciation hits the tense,
almost neurotic, tones that Murphy used so well. The end of
this song though, is what makes it so magnificent. After rocking
along lightly with guitar plucking and deep drumming, it all
cuts loose, the drummer really wailing on what sounds to me
like those big kettle drums (love those things -- awesome sound!
-- this is probably a sample though), and the guitar kicks in
the overdrive. Lovely. This actually carries over quite well
into the next track, No World Outside, which is held
together by those same lovely drums. Good stuff.
Overall, i am impressed with this disc, although i never expected
to be. Dream Into Dust have some very good musical ideas, and
they certainly have both the musicianship and the production
skills to carry their ideas out. If you are an EBM fan, i heartily
endorse this CD. If you are a rabid Radiohead fan, then this
is also a good purchase due to that prominent reference point.
Otherwise, well, it's a little dark and pretentious at times,
but it is well done, and certainly worth a listen.