“Have you ever really thought about time?” asks Tony Scharf, aka NoiseTheorum. While the full concept of Time is impossible to grasp – who can comprehend the infinite? – Dust seeks to address its infinite qualities. Scharf reminds us that we are dust, but he does so in a manner opposite than that of religion. (“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”) Instead, he and his music speak of timelessness, highlighting the fact that we are comprised of tiny molecules that have been around since the Big Bang, and will remain after “we” leave.
NoiseTheorum’s brand of industrial music – melodic, hypnotic, laden with ambience and steady rhythms – is perfect for contemplation. Dust takes the listener on a meditative journey while keeping the senses sharp. At times, the music is reminiscent of Intermix and Synæsthesia, two mostly instrumental side projects of Front Line Assembly. “Escape into Entropy” and “When the Dust Settles” are especially effective at conveying the aural impression of a slowly drifting galaxy. The combination of pads and percussion allows the listener to visualize gaseous clouds backlit by distant stars. Although there is no sound in space, there is space in this sound.
When vocals enter in the fourth track, they break the mood a bit. Effective as they may be, they corral the listener’s thoughts instead of letting them expand. Fortunately the guest voices are likable, and the spoken words stick to the overall script. It’s possible that without them, the listener might drift a bit too far like an accidentally released balloon. On “Dead Hands”, a chopped voice wanders speaker to speaker as if searching for its place in the universe; and on the album highlight “Emergent Forces”, organ-like tones and sci-fi whooshes lead to a recitation of the main monologue. While the timbre and theme may invite comparison to The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld, Scharf isn’t quite as spacey (pun intended). On the surface, Dust may seem like an album of altered consciousness, but it never goes off the rail to muse over fluffy little clouds. Fans of the aforementioned artists should be well-pleased with this offering; those who are encouraged by the thought that a part of them will survive forever will enjoy it even more. (Richard Allen)