The Gentleman Losers
(City Centre Offices)
Record Review by Adam McKibbin
Dustland is a place on the other side of world from 30-second snap judgments. The second instrumental album from Finnish brothers Samu and Ville Kuukka unfurls slowly, shying from overt hooks or droning repetition, and seldom fails to captivate. Song titles like “Wind in Black Trees” and “Silver Water Ripples” more than hint at the mood of Dustland, caught somewhere in between tranquility and desolation. Or, as the press release nicely puts it, “Like a ballroom orchestra recorded inside a snow globe.” While the Losers’ self-titled debut featured several stunning tracks, Dustland improves on it as an immersive, top-to-bottom listening experience.
The gentlest of riffs begins the journey on “Honey Bunch,” a buoyant lullaby that seems like it’s the sort of the track that will drift and meander for eight minutes – but instead blips to black at around 2:30, giving way to the more mysterious “Silver Water Ripples,” with just its slight uptick in urgency. Again, rather than wander, the Losers leave the thread behind before they even hit the three-minute mark. After that lovely and tantalizing one-two punch – it’s really more like a caress than a punch – “The Echoing Green” rises up, the first track to really pull the listener down the rabbit hole, courtesy of its more crowded and complicated arrangement. Lest you think you’ve got them and their slow-moving beauty pegged, they throw out a few curveballs late in the game, like the Halloween-recalling harpsichord of “Farandole.” The Gentlemen Losers courteously (they are gentlemen, after all) save the best for last: the evocative “Pebble Beach,” a song that perfectly conjures peaceful sunsets and, despite the title, doesn't seem to have anything to do with golf.
Aside from a couple minutes of portentous static (“Oblivion’s Tide”), they never release their captive audience. Of course, a drive-by audience could easily assign Dustland to the background – and it serves a purpose there, too, lending a quiet grace and cinematic gravity to whatever you have going on in the foreground (your pile of laundry will never look so lovely). But, like the best music of its kind, Dustland rewards close attention with nuance and hidden treasures.
More by this writer:
James Blackshaw - The Glass Bead Game
Lambchop - Damaged
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Interview
Art Brut - Live - June 17, 2009