Sam Dust's first full-length foray into solo artistry as LA Priest has a definite continuity with his work in Late Of The Pier. From the outset, debut album 'Inji' is packed with eccentric synths and whimsical progressions that are just about charming enough to merit repeated play, but it's also an album that's defined by its many peaks and troughs. At times frustrating, like catching flashes of sunlight darting through the trees as you race down the motorway, there's a constant sense that he's on the verge of something transcendent but tantalisingly out of reach.
Weighed down by an uneven pace, the album starts slow with a down-tempo funk jam called 'Occasion'. The vocals and music are deliberately strained as the whole thing crawls by like a Prince record being time warped. It's interesting, sure, but not the most riveting way to start an album. Things pick up on third track 'Gene Wishes With A New Arm' which is a largely percussive synth composition, fully reminiscent of the collaborations between Bowie and Eno on the latter half of Bowie's 'Low' album.
The album's centrepiece is also its highest peak. 'Oino' and 'Party Zute/Learning To Love' both straddle the line between playful indulgence and dancefloor brilliance with care. 'Oino' breezes by effortlessly with its dubby psychedelia, sounding like it should remain on everyone's playlists now that summer is starting to show. 'Party Zute/Learning To Love' is very much two separate songs, spliced together deftly with a fox-like sleight of hand. 'Party Zute' is the strange and throbbing intro replete with insistent thudding beats, warped horns and backwards instrumentation. The transition to the latter end, 'Learning To Love', is seamless and executed with much aplomb, emerging as a four-to-the-floor dancefloor banger with a singularly frenetic style of its own.
Evidently, Sam Dust is deep into the weirder spectrum of experimental pop, packed with the kind of non-single album cuts that Bowie and Arthur Russell could really create tactfully. 'Fabby' is an exemplary display, weaving oriental instrumentation with a slinky bassline that has more twists and turns than a game of snakes and ladders. Similarly, Lorry Park is an interesting freeform percussive solo that's heavily redolent of the concrete urban jungle. But for all its creative highs it never feels quite as innovative, or as beautifully and deliberately cuckoo as Bowie or Russell.
'Inji' is a good album. It's one of the best albums to have been released this year, which says a lot about Dust's ability as a composer. One thing's for sure - he certainly has it in him to make a great album.
Words: Tim Hakki
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