Muggs

Dust

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    9
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Assembling an intimate set of collaborators from the rock community, Muggs breaks from his usual hip-hop projects and takes a second stab at electronica on Dust. His first attempt was with 1999's Juxtapose, an uneven pairing with Tricky that was dominated by the British rapper's paranoid, druggy sound. Dust is more focused, with Muggs delivering a frequently brilliant collection of dense yet lovely soundscapes. The producer crafts each track with meticulous detail, mixing electronic beats, live instruments, and bizarre samples into epic down-tempo pop. Most impressive is "Rain," a majestic ballad that blends a shuffling beat, orchestral strings, acoustic guitars, and the fragile voice of Buckcherry's Josh Todd into a melancholy gem. "Tears" is a far more menacing highlight, boasting a tense mixture of ghostly female vocals and pounding dance beats. A collaboration with Greg Dulli results in "Cloudy Days," a gritty drug ballad that recalls the menacing soul of the Afghan Whigs' 1965; while the throbbing "Morta" is a seductive, slow burning vamp revolving around moody orchestral flourishes and a lazy tribal drumbeat. "Far Away" finishes the record with a sweeping dream pop coda, slowly devolving from a haze of chiming guitars and buried vocals into a blend of lush synths and chanting. The album's subtle build from bleak electronica to ethereal alternative rock is a stunning accomplishment; his productions haven't maintained this kind of flow since the first Soul Assassins disc. Muggs has made a phenomenal journey back into trip-hop, delivering a brooding masterpiece of cinematic beats and late-night atmosphere.

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