Before I Return To Dust by SlowburnerRelease date: March 14, 2017
Drone elements of ambient music and the gentle delicate progression of simple piano keys seem to go hand in hand at times, more often than not giving the listener an album experience that gently lulls one into a completely serene sense of calm. Whilst it has been done a fair bit here and there, when done well, the results are never less than effective. On Slowburner (Élvio Rodrigues)’s latest release Before I Return To Dust, we’re offered that quintessential experience, though done so brilliantly well, where delicate details create a wonderfully beautiful melancholy experience that feels incredibly emotive.
Utilizing field recordings, subtle hums of ambient drone and very sparse yet deliberate piano, we’re presented with an album experience with very subtle details, all of which helps feels like a snapshot of a vast frozen landscape still brimming full of life and nature. Much of the tone of work feels incredibly reflective, as though using the creative process of making the album to consider and think about aspects of one’s life, or perhaps give people a headspace to do the very same, by creating a very gentle and lulling musical landscape where one can feel introspective.
Whilst the main driving force of the album seems to be the piano performances, the album itself isn’t entirely shaped by just the single element. As the pieces themselves slowly unfurl with each note, it is accompanied by very gentle ambient drones that add so much more to the pieces themselves. It’s all an incredibly natural sounding progression, which slowly evolves more and more as we progress through each track. The natural flow across the album comes across very strongly, with the album beginning with the subtle gentle sounds of nature in ‘Start Where You Are With What You Have’, which slowly introduces each element, before all culminating into the brilliantly moving ‘Please Let Me Be More Than This Fleck Of Dust In The Air’.
Perhaps the incredibly melancholy nature of the album itself will make this one a difficult one for people to really warm up too, but the emotive nature of the music makes it one that is worth a listen. Everything feels subtle, and it all stays subtle as Rodrigues lets a natural rhythm slowly evolve without it ever introducing something that is simply unneeded. Yes, it’s arguable there’s much like this out there, but there’s an incredible strength to what is being presented here, which simply manages to capture the essence of what makes the genre work, and push across something emotive and beautiful.