An album worth dusting off for the first time
Clockdust is a charming invitation into the world of a genuine, everyday man. It echoes a simpler time, feeling of neighbors gathering in the parlor after an evening meal listening to the radio, though the structure of songs do not lack complexity. This album by Rustin Man is well-written, intelligently arranged and impactful. The imprint this album leaves on listeners’ hearts is the work of a true artist. The singer’s plain vocal quality, is, perhaps, a bit underwhelming, maybe more so than intended.
From the first few dreamy piano notes of “Carousel Days” emerges the quality of an old songwriter’s ballad. Peppered with a bit of the whimsical, this song features arrangement techniques of harmonies and horns in the psychedelic vein of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. A bit morose, “Gold Tinsel” is a slow, dreamy Moody Blues-like piece with a forlorn classical guitar picking away. “Jackie’s Room” has a cool, laid back vibe. The singer sounds vaguely like Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues. An old vintage-style guitar tone and beat characteristic of the 1950s is present throughout this languid, cascading song.
“Love Turns Her On” is a quiet declaration of unrequited love and regret, from a subtle, reserved perspective. A classical acoustic guitar carries the song. He sings “jealousy won’t let her pray…it’s something that gives me away.” Rich harmonies and a cool sequence of descending tones are among the techniques that give this minor lament its feel. This piece highlights the vocal quality, which leaves something to be desired. “Rubicon Song” is more of a symphonic piece with an insidious, intriguing start. A vocoder-effected speaking voice repeats an indecipherable phrase, with a decaying echo, as if it is being spoken into a canyon. A brilliant palette of harmonized strings, woodwinds, and marimba construct this song in cohesion. “Old Flamingo” is a plain, meandering song with a lazy, tango-type vibe. It is slow, yet deliciously spicy.
“Kinky Living” has a fun, lazy beat. The singer sounds a great deal like David Bowie. “He’s under her spell yet again,” he sings. “Night in the Evening” is another slow, mysterious song, with a chill, sultry vibe like Sade. This song has a reggae essence, as the voices sing “Fighting for my people,” but it is not predictable like a lot of other reggae songs. Instead, it weaves a shimmering trail through space and time. “Man with a Remedy” begins sparsely with its piano intro dotted with a basic drum kit and Bowie-style singing. This composition grows in richness like compositions of Yes and The Beach Boys. It is both experimental and pleasing to listen to like Pet Sounds.
Clockdust shines because of Rustin Man’s excellent instrumental and vocal arrangement, but it struggles a bit because the sub-par quality of the singing. Overall, Clockdust is an intriguing album from an artistic standpoint. It is full of surprises, orchestrated by a wise soul and carved out by a steady hand. It is definitely worth a listen.