Duster, "What You're Doing to Me" (Numero Group)
Following box sets of slowcore giants Codeine and Bedhead, Chicago reissue label Numero Group again reveals its love of patient, emotionally subdued rock with a lavish box encompassing the catalog of San Jose, California band Duster, who recorded for Seattle's Up Records from 1997 to 2000. The 4xLP/3xCD Capsule Losing Contact contains the Stratosphere and Contemporary Movement albums, the 1975 EP, singles, demos, and other miscellanea. It's the respectful career retrospective for which any band should feel extreme gratitude. That Duster existed relatively briefly is testament to the subliminal yet powerful impact these heavy-lidded space-rockers had on a certain kind of sensitive music fan—and key people in the music industry.
"What You're Doing to Me" is a previously unreleased track "that was recorded in [drummer Jason Albertini]'s basement in Seattle on 4-track during some lost time when we were isolated, distant stations just enduring the cold dark winds," the band stated in a press release. "Recording songs and putting them in a bag to do something with them eventually is kinda how we've always done it." Though it's no speed-burner, "What You're Doing to Me" moves at a quicker clip than most Duster songs. It's a masterpiece of subtle dynamics, the guitars exuding spangly languor, the vocals murmured as if from a sickbed, the drums light yet appealingly laggard. Duster somehow have managed to make enervation sound enticing—which has been the key to whatever success they've had to date. It's a feat that's much harder to pull off than you think.
I sadly missed Duster's comeback show at Barboza in January, but let's hope this box set inspires them to focus on the group in earnest and tour again soon.