Dust to Dust blazes a new trail for Steve Roach. On many of his albums, he has explored integrating electronically generated sounds with acoustic percussion and didgerido to create tribal electronica. On Dust to Dust, he collaborates with guitarist Roger King to create music inspired by the dreams and memories of the people that have lived in the American West.
Careful listeners will hear echoes of many the peoples of the West. Some of the vocal work sounds like Native American singing. Roach’s harmonica seems like it could be coming from a ghostly cowboy. King’s guitar work captures the sounds of blues players, Spanish guitarists, and cowboys.
The instrumentation is not the only thing unusual for a Steve Roach album. Dust to Dust is very descriptive music; it evokes very definite images. Most of Roach’s music is absolute music, music that has more of an abstract meaning. At times, the tracks on Dust to Dust almost sound like the soundtrack to a western movie.
King’s guitar work is excellent, and brings a great deal to the music. It gives the music definite tonal roots, and even occasionally sounds song-like. Roach steps back a little, and gives King plenty of room. The music of Dust to Dust puts the sound of guitar into a new context, much like Brian Eno did with Apollo. By doing this, Roach and King retain some of the history that the guitar evokes, while creating something new.
Roach’s synth washes are much less prominent than on much of his music, giving King’s guitar work room to breathe. On this CD, Roach uses synthesizers, samplers, and beer bottles primarily to create ambient effects. He creates soundscapes full of blowing winds, droning insects, rattlesnakes, creaks, thunder and the occasional howl.
The CD package describes Dust to Dust as “the soundtrack of lingering ghosts, to the lost and not-so-forgotten dreams of restless souls who were driven to ‘Go West, by God!'” The music successfully captures the sounds and moods of the West, evoking images of its past and present.