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Alone @ last.

Album: Stratosphere Band: Duster Up Records, Feb 24th 1998

The loneliness and desolation generated by the belief that literally nothing surrounds one is a jarring occurrence to many people. While nothing is to some a place of solace, of eternal peace, it is to most a coda to all that makes life something worth experiencing. The stratosphere resides in a position caught in between the physical representations of the opposing forces of nothingness and actuality; earth and space. Inhabiting the stratosphere, one looks up to see the endless black heaven above and looks down to the concrete structure of earth. What a strange place to reside. It is a place many people have experienced without ever entering the actual stratosphere. Sometimes, on the solid ground of Earth one can get caught between the senseless and absurd nature of life, while still aware of the life-system’s continuous function. To be disconnected with the world but witness people walking with smiles, with places to go, with a purpose that is unintelligible, is the stratosphere. Stratosphere, by Duster, represents this place sonically.

Defined by the critics as Space Rock, a fitting categorization, Duster explores more of space than just their reverberated and empty instrumental representation of it. Slow and “spacey”, Duster’s songs float from one to the next like an astronaut drifting through abundant darkness. Minimalism is apparent everywhere from the recording techniques to the sparse melodies and instrumentals that many of the songs are composed of. With a slow and steady drum beat that lackadaisically dances across the plain of the record, these songs depict human isolation. “Drunk with hope for the better things.” opens The Landing, as notes slowly climb up and down a tidy little scale, gradually climbing their way to the top and drifting down just as aimlessly.

Many of the titles and lyrics contain references to space, a place of influence for many in the in the history of art. The universe’s unceasing blackness exudes a great reflective force over an individual. With its wide areas of virtually nothing it has the effect of the blank canvas. Meaning becomes unilaterally different and self-created because it develops out of each individual filling the darkness with whatever they choose. Some cultures have worshiped space as one of the elements necessary to human existence on earth. Duster looks to space in search of a metaphor for the earthly pains that come with existence. The Landing, is the night you walked across the city sidewalks in search of the reason why your whole night didn’t go the way you planned.

Even when Duster hits its most distorted and conscious it brings with it the apathetic feeling of being lost. Echo, Bravo and Earth Moon Transit destroy the notion that Duster just quietly rambles through human loneliness, but even its twisted and hard tones bring with them a sense that all will return to an absurd normalcy in the stratosphere, and once again there one will sit floating between worlds.

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