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'///Codename: Dustsucker'   

-  Label: 'Fire Records'
-  Genre: 'Post-Rock' -  Release Date: '25th May 2018'

Our Rating:
This LP is a reissue of the East-London group's second and, to date, last, studio album which is described by Fire Records as having been "criminally overlooked" when it was first released in 2004. There's every possibly that this 'crime' will be repeated a second time but it's a record that nevertheless deserves praise and attention from a wider audience.

In the 10 year gap between their first acclaimed (though similarly overlooked) album - Hex - in 1994 the original band members downsized from four to one with only guitarist and vocalist Graham Sutton left standing. It's not surprising therefore that the feel of the two albums is quite different but, listened to back to back, they are remarkably complimentary works.   

For "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes", Simon Reynolds, in his review of Hex, first coined the term Post-Rock. This is now over-used genre label that tends to be shorthand for any band where instrumentation is more prominent than the vocals.

'Dustsucker' was produced and recorded by Sutton in his private studio between 1999 and 2004. Fourteen other musicians assisted him with Talk Talk drummer Lee Harris being a key contributor yet, for all this, the record still has the feel of a solo project.

Rather than play to the gallery, one imagines from the understated nature of the work that it was conceived in private with the probable expectation that this is also how it will also be heard. Certainly the nine tracks are best listened to uninterrupted in a single 50 minute sitting.

Layers of sound are meticulously applied so they're very little linearity about the pieces; one track, (featuring vocals by Anja Buechele) is called Shapeshifting and this is a perfect name for what is going within the music as a whole.

The ambient-meets-jazz-meets-rock arrangements back and often overwhelm Sutton's hushed vocals. These, needless to say, disregard any notion of a traditional verse-chorus-chorus song structure.

The drifting quality means that these sleepy tunes do little to impose on the listener. Instead, for those patient and receptive enough, they gently seep into the consciousness.   

As I write, five of the nine tracks are tagged for explicit content on Spotify although you'd be hard pushed to understand why. The tone is muted rather than angry and, although one of the standout songs is named Miss Abuse, any depraved lyrics are safely buried in the mix.

Fourteen years on, the album retains its enigmatic intensity and although we have long had the codename, the mysteries remain securely locked in.
  author: Martin Raybould

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