Tuesday, 16 May 2017

EP Review: DÜST - Everything Is Dust

Grunge-rap might sound like an unwieldy proposition to some. But if anyone can pull it off then it's a band featuring the talents of slam poet/emcee Texture, celebrated producer Asthmatic Astronaut and drummer Ben Tokamak. Hannah Westwater reviews their debut EP.

DÜST - Everything Is Dust 
Buy/Listen here

The best releases are the ones that seem like they were created out of necessity. Expression above ego and thoughts which just had to go somewhere. Music which pushes a message to the foreground, not the other way round. I mean, what’s rap if you haven’t got anything to say?

On 'Everything is Dust', that’s what’s most striking. It’s a lyrically dense protest layered over boom bap beats and razor sharp synths. It's quite dystopian, both sonically and in subject matter and heavy on imagery. But it's still on-the-nose, lamenting the ‘inadequacy of politics to address inequalities’. Word.

There’s a harmonic dissonance threaded throughout which just seems to reflect how Texture feels as he observes the world around him with detail. It would be easy to edge beyond the line of accessibility, but thankfully the EP steers clear of such a pitfall. This is largely due to Texture’s seriously convincing delivery – perhaps not surprising from a former Scottish Slam Poetry champion, but you're left with no doubt that he means what he says. 

These tracks benefit from the vocals appearing high up in the mix, which is no slight on the production but a result of them being the most gripping element of what’s on offer. Texture even sings the odd part, and he happily pulls it off with soft melodies fitting in snugly beside verses which drip disillusion. 

The EP opens with an instrumental track, which might be a bold choice for such a short release but certainly sets the scene. It's a symbol of what's to come production-wise: dark electronic rhythms, which are deliberately repetitive in a way that's reminiscent of House music. Repetition is fine, but this release might just run the risk of moving beyond cohesion to the point of being a little samey. With that said, this isn't a full release, and its effectiveness can’t be denied when taken as a snapshot of angsty realism.

The inclusion of a live track - Charlie Don’t Surf, which ties with One Piece as the EP's stand out -  seems a little unnecessary given it doesn’t sound markedly different from the studio version. It does, however, demonstrate the consistency of Texture’s delivery, clear and brimming with conviction. 

This isn’t an EP to reach for if you’re looking for chirpy hooks or an easy listen. It demands attention, with even its more tongue-in-cheek moments thick with resentment for the institutional injustices surrounding us. Yet It’s one that will stick with you – and isn’t that the point? – while the Düst trio continue on as ‘sick realists still existing even though [they’re] on the endangered species list’.