Review Summary: A soundtrack for the dying Old West.
4 of 4 thought this review was well written
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.
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.