Malcolm Pardon—one half of Swedish duo Roll The Dice—has a background in film composition. I discovered this with little surprise sometime after first hearing In Dust. The pair's sophomore album sounds as much like a score as anything else. Of course, the words "film score" can mean any number of things depending on the movie. In this case, however, it'd be some kind of epic. Where their first long player had moments of introspection and intimacy, In Dust is all sweeping chords and bold crescendoes. It's the kind of stuff Peter Jackson probably starts the day with.
"Iron Bridge" begins things. Starting from near silence, its thrumming synths build dramatically for eight minutes before ending abruptly, as if dropping listeners into a chasm. Prior to even knowing the track's name, its layers of tense synth had already imparted the required mental image. Take any cliff-ending chase scene—by car, horse or foot—and you've got it too. Similarly, "Calling All Workers" opens with a deep, tolling bell. Though its piano and misty synth work are more hopeful than the previous track's foreboding leads, the same sense of tension is present. Perhaps this time, one can envision the inhabitants of a castle preparing for its defence. A similar trick is employed for "The Skull is Built Into the Tool," albeit in grimmer form.
Setting aside further lame imaginings, the epic tone of In Dust is pretty much inescapable. The closest the album comes to the gentle musings of its selt-titled predecessor is a three minute section towards the end, with "Evolution" and "The Suck," two grainy pieces which act as a welcome breath. They're the oddest of the bunch, dark and quiet. The rest of the time, things tend towards warmth; naturalistic, emotive leads that reach for the sky. At 11 minutes long, "Way Out" exemplifies this, at times sounding almost like a Penguin Cafe Orchestra creation. It's little more than twinkling keys, heavenly pads and unbridled euphoria.
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the colossal melodic structures employed here. The duo's earnest creations aren't saccharine Euro trance, after all. Each track on the album is impeccably composed, their vibrant notes bounding forward with utter finesse. However, though it's beatless—or perhaps because of it—the constant tension does get tiring. There's little pay off, or at the least, moments of quiet reflection. In Dust seems solely an accompaniment for alps and plains. Some space for the bedroom and lounge would have been nice too.
Buy Roll The Dice - In Dust at
Tracklist: Roll The Dice - In Dust 01. Iron Bridge
02. Calling All Workers
03. Idle Hands
05. Dark Thirty
06. The Skull Is Built Into The Tool
08. The Suck
09. Cause And Effect
10. Way Out
11. See You Monday
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