Hailing from Australia, Skye Klein’s project Terminal Sound System is set on an interesting path. The merging of doom, post rock, and jazz with the diverse fields of electronica and heavy dub has yielded some very promising results. The music of Terminal Sound System is quite difficult to pinpoint due to the above reason but what is quite intriguing with this act is that Klein has no problem taking things into extreme. And I am not talking about sonic extremity and the inclusion of noise, but rather experimental extremity.
The one thing this guy deserves kudos for is his impeccable use of effects, and he is really using them to a crazy extent in Dust Songs. Instead of taking the safe route and conventional methods, he squeezes as much as he can out of them, resulting in some unorthodox implementations. From the glitch effects in the intro of the album, the vision of Klein is quite clear: collapse, an entropic state of collapse that travels in circular motions for the duration of this album. The vocals are also drenched in effects in certain cases, for instance the deep, cool effect in the start of “The Silver World” or the electrifying personification in “Morning Star.” Klein is even brutal with the acoustic guitar, getting a phase effect in the final moment of the tremendous “My Father, My Mother.”
His unconventional methodology overwhelms even the progression of his tracks. In most of the songs in this album you will find parts where Klein decides to add a pause in the middle of a track, catching you completely unaware. The silence will endure for a few seconds before the song is resumed or the next part is presented. The whole idea makes this a quite unstable listen and not a very comfortable one, but I guess that is the magic of an album such as Dust Songs. The ambiance of the album is the prime aspect that is affected by the strange methods of Klein. The fascinating aspect though, is that if you try and peek underneath the towering synths, effects and progression you will find songs that are quite soothing and welcoming.
The acoustic guitar is one of the pillars that gives Dust Songs a sweeter tonality. The strumming is circular with the melodies appearing and disappearing at their creator’s whim. In songs such as “Keepers” and “The Silver World” the acoustic guitar gives a very delicate and subtle performance, boosting the emotional aspect of the songs. In other cases, such as in “Shadows,” it plays a vital part in building up the track on top of the synths and percussive beats. The other part of the foundation of this record is the vocals. The ethereal vibe and softness can act either in soothing manner or in an eerie fashion. The most stunning performances come in tracks such as “Keepers” and “My Father, My Mother” with the song carrying much more emotion and melody. And then, at other times Klein is able to deliver mesmerizing performances, as is the case with “Shadows,” dragging you down into his realms of sounds with ease.
Even though the acoustic guitar and vocals are responsible for holding the basis of the songs, it is the synths that actually steal the show. The final part of “By The Meadow” reveals that in the most majestic of ways, with a plethora of synths coming in to make the sound as grand as possible. At other times, the bassy synths can give more substance to the tracks, as is the case with “My Father, My Mother.” Klein also implements synths in order to get percussive sounds out of them. The soft synth percussion that is implemented in the tracks of Dust Songs serves different purposes. In some cases they can act as a nice addition to the music, as is the case with “Silver Minds.” But then they can also grant a track more drive and purpose as they do with “My Father, My Mother,” “Morning Star” and in a subtler way with “Shadows.”
Yet, Klein still holds a couple of tricks up his sleeve for when something different is needed. Even though not much experimentation in the regions of noise is done, it seems to be just a step away, a constant threat that never becomes realized. The noise is constantly evolving in “By The Meadow” and rising in “Silver Minds.” On the other hand, the static noise of “Keepers” is always kept at bay and the guitar feedback in “Silver Minds” adds more substance to the track. But when things need to get explosive, Terminal Sound System still will turn everything around and unleash their most brutal self. The drone/doom riffs in “Shadows” destroy everything that Klein has been building, while the same occurs in the final part of “Morning Star” bidding us farewell.
Dust Songs is an intriguing album mainly due to Klein’s choice to not back away from anything. In this album he makes the most out of his effects and synths while building solid songs. It is quite a curious one and it might not appeal to you immediately, but after a few listens it will be extremely difficult to get Dust Songs out of your head.
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