The vapors of private press one-offs and outsider psych-folk swirl strong on the debut LP from Easthampton’s Gold Dust. The band, a moniker for Stephen Pierce (Ampere, Kindling), is a departure from the bulk of Pierce’s catalog – pushing away from his most recent works doused in the fog of shoegaze and worlds away from his hardcore roots. The eponymous LP was recorded at home, something that strengthens its kinship with the hermitage folk of writers like Gary Higgins, FJ McMahon, or Ted Lucas. Like those lately anointed guitar saints, the Gold Dust record finds its peace in solitude — locked in the room alone with the tape rolling or echoing footsteps off the surrounding mountains of his native Massachusetts. Those lodestones of the past are filtered through a more current smoke curl of psych-folk less lost, but still stoking the meditative coals of a long burning fire. There’s a common bond here with Six Organs of Admittance’s bourbon-laced campfire drawl and Donovan Quinn’s wounded aural sermons. Gold Dust manages to feel both both lost to time and a product of wider accessibility, a record that might only exist in a year like 2021.
Pierce notes a decades long searching out for folk obscurities as the impetus for the shift in sound. Like Pierce I can relate to the endless search for sounds, a feeling that the perfect record is out there somewhere, though the journey through the fringes is as rewarding as the goal. That deep bench of discovery informs the record’s sounds, but what gives something of a unique flicker to its flame is his immersion in folk from an outside perspective. Pick acoustic all your life and it’s bound to sound studied, but finding ways to snuff the violence of double stacked amps and sow a sound that echoes apartment folk fixtures and it becomes a small record that still manages to maker bigger moves. There are times when it evokes the quieter moments of something like Spiritualized, channeling an ability to fill the room even when the strings and swells aren’t around. You can take the player away from the haze, but you can’t quell an instinct to lean towards the vortex now and again. That said, this record is a psych-folk gem that’s making good on its goal of achieving hidden gem status from the outset. Don’t sleep too long or this one will become just another grail in the bins to search out someday.
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