I’ve always admired the Numero Group’s all-inclusive criteria - their ability to put well-worn acts under a microscope and squeeze out brilliant rarities has yielded some of the most interesting entries in their catalog (Blonde Redhead, White Zombie) and more generally, their examination of lesser-known artists existing outside of the soul/funk ether have fast become some of my favorite reissues of all time (Antena, Unwound). This exhaustive collection from San Jose space rock / slowcore trio Duster (as in, the shit you huff when you’re too broke to buy drugs) falls into this latter category. While their space rock progenitors spewed sprawling, reverb-soaked instrumental dirges as a means to tickle the urges of their childhood sci-if nerddom, or to provide a backdrop for their burnout homies’ sophomoric drug trips, Duster were clearly launching themselves into space as a means to escape the heartache and banality of life in shithole Silicon Valley circa the dot com boom. No really, drop the needle anywhere on Stratosphere and it’s immediately apparent that these guys have more in common with Sonic Youth or Red House Painters than Spacemen 3 (listen real close and you can almost hear the blueprint for 2nd wave emo acts American Football and The Promise Ring). Both Stratosphere and Contemporary Movement are full of visionary compositions pushing the confines of the traditional rock three-piece into the outer limits. While there’s so much to say about both albums, what really makes this set glow is the miscellaneous materials included on discs 3 and 4, as they include some of Duster’s rarest and most arresting moments… particularly the haunting “Want No Light To Shine” (from the 1975 EP), eastern-tinged compilation cut “And Things Are Mostly Ghosts,” disappearer’s anthem “Four Hours” (from the Apex, Trance-Like 7”) and the coveted “Echo, Bravo” (left off the original Stratosphere LP). Not to mention six previously-unreleased tracks. 51 tracks in total, fully remastered and spread across 4 black LPs housed in individual tip-on jackets, with hard outer box and full-color booklet containing lyrics, drawings and photos. Can’t recommend this enough!
- compilation of albums, rare singles + unreleased material from California space rock / slowcore band Duster
- 4x black vinyl LP
- housed in Stoughton tip-on jackets w/ hardcover outer slipcase
- includes full color booklet w/ lyrics, drawings + photos
- limited edition
- music label: Numero Group 2019
reviewed by Isosceles Kramer 05/2019