If we can represent our linear understanding of past, present and future as a single horizontal line, the objective of Dust Archive is to chart the diagonals that lead to misremembered histories, alternate realities and prophecies that are never liberated from the cocoon of mere theory. The imprint carefully avoids the use of the term “record label”, instead projecting the myth of being an actual archive: a neglected attic box of tapes in plastic evidence wallets, each labelled with a “protocol number”. In this case, it’s D.A. # 001 – A.D. 2020. Does this signal that the album was recorded in the 2020 we exist in now? Or is it perhaps a hypothetical model of 2020 constructed at some point in the past, recast as a fanciful detour by the “true” trajectory of history? Such ambiguities are what bring Dust Archive into being.
This first instalment is the work of Italian artist Alberto Biasutti (aka Bias). The opening side is a light rainfall of tones of varying fidelities, worn and warbling, forming momentary harmonies as two or more splash side-by-side. A broken intercom barks over the top, reduced to hornet’s hum by the degradation of distance. It hovers between three or four tonal zones, never thickening out of its pitter-patter intermittency. Side two starts out as a single shuddering chord, like a neon sign broken in three places. Gradually the luminescent liquid spills beyond its confining tubes, forming a smear of glistening organs, lullaby voices and high-pitched sines that oozes shapelessly to the edges.
True to theme, both pieces have a barely-present translucency, like camera film under excessive sunlight. Key details are missing, either lost to erosion or yet to even materialise. That’s the fabulous thing about Dust Archive – thanks to its conceptual scrambling of present and past, even the warmth of crackling tape doesn’t simply denote an artefact from a former time. Everything becomes temporally complicated. We’re looking back upon a figure who, in turn, is peering forward to an imagined future. Follow the ricochet of time-travel deduction and you’ll end up at a present tense that isn’t this one.