Line Out Music & the City at Night

Monday, January 30, 2012

Conjuring up an Imaginary Past

Posted by on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 2:20 PM

  • The Leaf Label

Roll the Dice, In Dust, The Leaf Label

I heard a couple of tracks from In Dust late last year, and found myself intrigued, but didn't get the chance to catch up with the Swedish duo's second studio recording until a few days ago. Anything that comes across as "cinematic" is bound to capture my attention, especially when there's no actual film involved.

I used to pick up movie scores from time to time, but it's been a while now since I've done that. I've come to find the idea of imaginary soundtracks more compelling, and that's essentially what Roll the Dice conjures up on this record.

The twosome, Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfelt (Fever Ray's Subliminal Kid), combine samples—heartbeats, church bells—with piano and analogue synths to haunting effect. There's nothing depressing about this disc, but it's hardly upbeat.

Musical analogues lean more towards Mogwai or Wax Tailor (minus the vocals) than Explosions in the Sky or DJ Shadow (minus the beats). Looking back even further, I hear echoes of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, and Brian Eno.

  • The Leaf Label

Overall, there's a poignancy to the proceedings, which serves as a reminder that electronic music doesn't have to be cold or clinical. As the strings swell during "Maelstrom," it feels as if something dramatic is about to go down, something momentous and life-changing. Without visuals, you can only imagine the scenario.

In my mind, the set documents a train trip through Britain decades ago (like one I took from grey London to the verdant Lake District). I catch glimpses of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and David Lean's Brief Encounter, which revolve around trains, stations, mysterious disappearances, and impossible relationships.

Those who like their music clean and crisp might find In Dust too leisurely and introspective, but for old-school movie fanatics like me, it's pretty essential stuff.


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