Cliff Dweller
Ghosts of the Dust Bowl


4.5
superb

Review

by Ty USER (11 Reviews)
July 27th, 2011 | 32 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A soundtrack for the dying Old West.

I grew up in Southern Arizona. Though I lived in a mountainous region of the state, I was still a short drive away from quite a few old ghost towns in the middle of the desert. They always fascinated me, they drove me to question a great deal of what I knew. I wondered if my town would be like that one day, I was curious why everyone left in such a hurry. I never officially found out why people left their homes and their lives behind. I suppose it was due to the fact that the town found itself short of a purpose one day or another. I assume resources became scarce and jobs failed to provide. That is why so many towns in the Old West were left to die and rot. The buildings left, they have a sad existence. Cold nights and long hot days weather the boards, storms rust the metal roofing and beat at the indecipherable old signs. Ghost towns are left to the mercy of time. Alone, they peacefully remind us of simpler times, times which will never be reborn. They are no longer lively and welcoming. Instead, they are lonely, haunting, and quiet

Cliff Dweller, an instrumental outfit that calls Los Angeles its home, brings back such faded old times of the Southwest with their album Ghosts of the Dust Bowl. Using more traditional instruments, such as acoustic guitars, an upright bass, and violins, the band paints grim pictures of dying towns that call the Sonoran Desert home. Along with these traditional instruments, Cliff Dweller creates ambient sections and layers them with various audio samples which prove to create an air of desolation and loneliness. The audio samples used throughout Ghosts of the Dust Bowl consist of rather haunting things, such as muddled footsteps, disjointed voices, dog cries, and old songs played over the radio. The samples add a great deal of character to the songs, darkening the overall tone of the album and making it feel slightly archaic.

Fortunately, the ambiance and samples do not overtake the musicianship upon this LP. Violins pluck and wail away over humble guitar work as an upright bass adds a meandering beat to the mix. A slight curiosity about Ghosts of the Dust Bowl is that not a single percussion instrument is heard throughout the eighteen tracks that make up this album. Instead of percussion, the band uses droning acoustics, such as drawn out and haunting violin riffs or bass beats to begin songs and keep them focused. Despite the absence of percussion, every instrument stays on task rather well, providing a very satisfactory and complete listen. Along with this, the instruments conjure up a slight Old Western feel. The feelings that this LP emanates are extraordinary. If an album could ever paint a picture of a landscape, Ghosts of the Dust Bowl would prove to be a lonely, ghost town riddled, desert.

In using unique techniques and instruments, Cliff Dweller have crafted an absolutely beautiful album. This album is a rather fresh take on some well proven concepts, as the band takes many sampling and layering ideas similar in nature to Godspeed You! Black Emperor's, mixes those ideas with instrumentation that could be found on a Blamorhea album, and adds rather haunting ambiance on top of it all. Proving to be both musically unique and emotionally charging, Ghosts of the Dust Bowl serves as a threnody for the dead ghost towns of the Old West, it reminds us of the once cherished times those skeleton buildings embody, it tells us of the passing of the Old West.



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user ratings (5)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
North0House2
July 27th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I cannot, for the life of me, get that album art to show up. I've tried several different files. Oh well.

In the spirit of the majority of my reviews, this album is free, check it out:
http://cliffdweller.bandcamp.com/album/ghosts-of-the-dust-bowl

It's one of the best releases, in the instrumental category, that I've heard this year.

Digging: Ef - Ceremonies

BallsToTheWall
July 27th 2011


44630 Comments


Great review I want to hear this. Lack of artwork is distracting though.

Digging: Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith

North0House2
July 27th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks man. I've been enjoying it a lot lately. I saw Rango recently, which was sort of an odd movie, but it has such a great sound track, I really was looking for something with an Old Western feel, and I found it.

Yeah, I hate the whole artwork thing, I've tried a bunch of different images, but Sputnik won't accept the files lol, they're .jpg files too. Ah well, whatever.

BallsToTheWall
July 27th 2011


44630 Comments


Get some Ennio Morricone scores, especially for For A Few Dollars More.

FelixCulpa
July 27th 2011


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Get Rome by Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi if you want more western movie sounding stuff. Great review too, sounds intriguing.

North0House2
July 27th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Ah there's the album art.
Sweet, thanks for the recs. I was listening to Friends of Dean Martinez earlier. They're kinda Western, but I only liked a few of their songs.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6203 Comments


fixed the art, all cool.

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

North0House2
July 27th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Awesome, thanks.

Eclecticist
July 27th 2011


3863 Comments


This sounds really awesome... and good review so pos

North0House2
July 27th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I love it, it's so good... at least in my opinion lol.

Gracias.

ECRbubs
July 28th 2011


687 Comments


sounds cool, I'll definitely check this out! nice review.

North0House2
July 28th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Awesome, man. Hopefully all you people like it.

Thanks lol.

North0House2
July 28th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

*NOTE*

"Peace Pipe" and "The Warshippers" do contain slight percussion.








My bad, I forgot about that when i wrote the review.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6203 Comments


A soundtrack for the dying Old West.



This reminds me of some books that Cormac McCarthy wrote about the Old West. Awesome books.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


31362 Comments



Yeah, I hate the whole artwork thing, I've tried a bunch of different images, but Sputnik won't accept the files lol, they're .jpg files too. Ah well, whatever.


It has nothing to do with that. Artwork has to be approved by the mods, it doesn't show up straight away.

Anyways, this sounds really interesting. Will get

Digging: Objekt - Flatland

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


31362 Comments


Have you heard their other albums?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


6203 Comments


It has nothing to do with that. Artwork has to be approved by the mods, it doesn't show up straight away.



For some reason, all my album edits are approved right away. It must be that my album edits are >1,500

and no Dev i don't want a medal for it lol.






Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2011


31362 Comments



For some reason, all my album edits are approved right away. It must be that my album edits are >1,500

and no Dev i don't want a medal for it lol.


Some of us who actively assist with the database have been allowed to edit without pre-approval. What are you on about with the medal though?


North0House2
July 28th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"It has nothing to do with that. Artwork has to be approved by the mods, it doesn't show up straight away.

Anyways, this sounds really interesting. Will get"

Ah really? Huh, I'll keep that in mind. Some of my artwork has been approved and visible practically instantaneously, though.

I've been enjoying it quite a bit.

"Have you heard their other albums?"

Ah, I know they have two others, one which is free, and another that you had to pay for. I listened to them a little bit, but they didn't catch my attention quite as much as this one did.

North0House2
July 28th 2011


5876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It's pretty different, for sure.



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