In recent weeks the sun has been growing less shy and we're seeing more and more of that phantom memory people mythologise about called "Summer". The days are getting longer, warmer and in turn, lazier. Thrill Jockey's latest release from Date Palms - The Dusted Sessions, has seemingly been crafted for and targeted at those drenched in heavy sunlight, wasting the day away like lizards baking on a rock and in that respect it does not disappoint.
Oozing in like a throbbing heat, The Dusted Sessions begins with drone-heavy delirium 'Yuba Source Part 1', the first of a three-part piece which ultimately works to make up the core of the album. Setting the tone for the record the quintet of Tusken Raiders chug guitars and slide strings, falling into the reverberation of their own instruments and allowing the bass to take hold as the sole rhythmic performer whilst retaining a constant interesting melody.
After a brief synthesised interlude via 'Six Hands to the Light', Pt.2 begins much where Yuba 1 left off: hazy, hypnotic and recurrent only this time with an overall fuzzier tone than before. The distortion of the bass guitar and synthesiser soon begin to merge into one soft but ever-present buzzing that seems to perfectly represent that feeling of a hard midday’s sun on your face and much like before, the guitars chug and the strings slide while soft keys touch and go. The immediately following reprise is also a treat as deeply textured guitar rolls in the far off distance, like a heavy wind blowing through sand while sitar resonates and twangs up close.
One of Date Palm's core duo, Gregg Kowalsky (the other being Marielle Jakobsons) has notably released ambient works with drone super-label Kranky [another personal favourite of mine] and certain pieces in The Dusted Sessions raise the idea of contextualising the group. 'Night Riding the Skyline' is a fine example of a track that could quite easily fit (much like the rest of the album) on either Kranky or Thrill Jockey as it certainly boasts the proudest elements that both these fine labels regularly exhibit: the 11 minute centrepiece draws the brain to comparison of many Kranky people, from Windy & Carl to Lichens and even Loscil, in some idea or thought. The track is also notable for holding the only drumbeat in the album (albeit a stuttering echo drenched beat) and seems as though it were lifted straight out of Pink Floyd's Animals. 'Night Riding…' has a constant dubby groove, ordained in Gilmour-esque guitar licks and organ stabs that could only have been influenced by the late, great Rick Wright.
The Dusted Sessions is a strong collection of conceptual, well executed and immersive music. The group claim to have been inspired by the Eureka Dunes and that couldn't be closer to the truth. The dense stifling heat of the desert is everywhere in this record, much like the sand it's made of.
The hypnotic waves of sound flow into every crack and crevice, into the pores of the listener's skin and vibrate the walls with resonance. Date Palms are not the only group in the world to have taken the stamp of the desert and put it into their music; Grails and Six Organs of Admittance have also done it (and done it well) but never quite to this extent. As the album's hazy outro, 'Exodus Due West' shimmers and pulls back into the centre of the desert, you can't help but feel as though this insane sunstroke has finally backed off and you're left stranded, isolated, alone still baking like a lizard on a rock, vultures circling overhead with sand fucking everywhere.