The recently-reformed slowcore act Duster are undergoing something of a critical renaissance at the moment. As such, now seems like a good point to unearth one of the band's time capsules for their new era. Valium Aggelein was another project that Clay Parton, Dove Amber and Jason Albertini were running at the time when Duster’s 'Stratosphere' was first released, and here their first album 'Black Moon' receives a reissue. 'Black Moon' sounds like the shoegaze ode to kosmische that it is - think Galaxie 500 covering Cluster - and comes bolstered by a whopping fifteen (!) bonus tracks here.
Vinyl Double LP £29.49 NUM213LP
2LP on The Numero Group aka Duster.
CD £14.49 NUM213CD
CD on The Numero Group aka Duster.
I truly cannot believe that the genre which brought us a band called Codeine, had also provided one called Valium Aggelein. But to the slowcorers' credit, it makes sense. Their music does feel numbed, and muted. Something is being repressed.
‘Black Moon’ is a collection of tracks from Valium Aggelein, a side project of the band Duster. It’s an album that feels empty. Slowcore bands often leave a messy wake, creating music that is dense and slow. Valium Aggelein’s slowness feels brittle. The album is almost entirely instrumental, with drums, and two guitars all offering as little as possible to keep each moment bound to the last. That the album is part improvised gives a strong feeling of just hanging on, of muddling through, of getting by.
This makes for dark and dour music. These tracks sound like they struggled to get out of bed this morning. ‘Liftoff In Stereo’ is a painfully slow jam between the three of them, though half way through they introduce wet synths, something else to weigh you down. ‘Bird Wings’ is a relatively straightforward track, but one that shows just how good Valium Aggelein were. This two and half minute long instrumental slow core jam is catchy of all things. There are heavy moments, ‘Interruptor’ is all distortion turned all the way up, but monotone vocals that try to shine through nip any excitement in the bud. And there's ‘Triumph Of The Metal People’ with an apocalyptic guitar line and bashed drums.
While writing this it was hard to stop thinking about the likes of Future and Young Thug, who make music about and inspired by the painkillers Valium Aggelein and Codeine named themselves for. Their output is certainly different, but that feeling of numbness is definitely something they share. And it’s a feeling that clearly hasn’t lost its appeal in the two decades since the tracks on ‘Black Moon’ were first recorded.
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