As one of the founding members of the noisy electronic group Holy Fuck, Brian Borcherdt has spent years making unhinged dance music and touring relentlessly as the band’s envelope-pushing sound developed. Behind the scenes, however, Borcherdt was writing songs of his own that branched out in dramatically different directions than his main gig.
If Holy Fuck represented a reckless night out, Dusted was the somber comedown the morning after - minimal, floating and wrapped in a soft but troubled haze.
Soon, a debut record, Total Dust, materialized and a live configuration of Dusted spent much of the next year on the road supporting Great Lake Swimmers, Perfume Genius and A Place To Bury Strangers. In addition to steady touring, Dusted also made a cameo on screen in Jean-Marc Vallée’s 2014 film Wild.
All the while, Borcherdt was constantly writing new material and working the new songs into the sets, ultimately ending up with an album’s worth of songs by the time tour was winding down.
Over the next stretch of months, progress on the album moved in fits and starts. The project re-assembled as a full band with Anna Edwards on guitar, Loel Campbell on drums, and (occassionally) Anna Ruddick on bass. Songs were pieced together in various studios whenever breaks in Brian’s increasingly busy schedule with Holy Fuck allowed. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also working on new sounds with Doug MacGregor of The Constantines and Alex Edkins of Metz in their band LIDS, making his already hyperactive musical world that much busier.
In spite of all the variables that went into making the album, Blackout Summer is an amazingly consistent and emotionally focused statement. Each song creates its own world of texture and narrative, and all nine of these worlds interlock with the same strange, hazy emotion.
Album opener “Seasons” sets the tone for the album’s twilight glow with a protracted, dreamy unraveling of chiming guitar lines and wistful vocals, all building in a slow burn. Elsewhere, the wintery “Cut Corners” hangs solemnly before disintegrating into a wash of ghostly tape echoes. Conversely, upbeat lo-fi burners like “Backwoods Ritual” and “Dead Eyes” channel Dusted’s experimental energy into catchy guitar pop that feels undeniably alive, almost breathing.
Blackout Summer winds through floating ambience and dark, moody rockers, but every disparate moment somehow feels connected. The vibe is warm and intimate, but always from a distance. There’s a sense of searching that drifts throughout but is never communicated overtly. Dusted’s fuzzy landscapes, dream-like production and buzzing melodies all congeal, burying Borcherdt’s twisted take on pop under layers of that all-important haze.