Dusted is the collaborative idea of ambient mix master and producer Rollo (Dido's brother) and producer Mark Bates; it is a collaboration that marks the first fully conceptual downtempo/chillout album. When We Were Young is a collection of tracks that map themselves around the territory that is childhood, obviously, but more importantly, around its various emotional states. Like a thinking person's Delerium -- with a whole lot more imagination and ambition in the production area -- Dusted uses a caustic groove of nostalgia and memory, and evoke -- through slipped beats, an elegiac bass, a silvery guitar, and a swamp-ring of keyboards -- the creation of a manifest destiny to use as a backdrop for singers Luke Garwood and Rachael Brown, who take the listener deeper into a world where the light almost never shines (one casual listen to "Hurt U" is enough to send you back to where you came from). The world revealed on When We Were Young is one of hurt, disappointment, betrayal, and a longing that seems to get larger with every drum loop. From the first single, "Always Remember to Respect Your Mother, Part 1," co-written by Dido, as was "Winter," through to "The Oscar Song, and "If I Had a Child," the atmosphere is one of innocence lost, and innocence longed for, even with its tragic memories. Musically, we're talking everything: from a digital-era-Pink Floyd to Björk to Ultramarine and Peter Gabriel. And while the very thought of an ambient chillout concept-album about the downside of childhood reeks of pretension, the careful and subtle manner in which these tunes are presented makes it instead not only thought-provoking, but seductive to listen to. For all of its ethereal excess, there is enough solid construction and careful consideration given to nuances to make it more than viable. When We Were Young is certainly worth the time and effort it takes to procure a copy. The reason? Simple: while it may echo many different things already out there; it sounds like nothing but itself -- and that's an accomplishment.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek