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After a growing line of weaker Senmuth albums, 'Planetary Dust' seems like a welcome salvation. As an artist that relies heavily on the art of 'ambience' to make up a substantial portion of his discography, this album does seem to stand out as far as his ambient work is concerned. While this is certainly not an excellent album or even 'great' album, it does distinguish itself from alot of the less thematic ambient work Senmuth has released.
The general theme that binds this album together is that of the outer rim of the solar system. Keeping in tow with the subject matter, the music here gives a very lonely, spacy and desolate feel. With each track, Senmuth explores a different planet or moon through the music here, which can be easily described as ambient industrial. While there are certainly sounds here that evade either of those styles, 'Planetary Dust' does appear to have more of a cohesive and uniform sound than most other Senmuth records. Alot of the tracks here don't have any structure, but instead end up as sound experiments, to some extent. The opening track is a fair example of this, relying more on the sound and timbre of the music, rather than the melody or composition of the piece.
An obvious highlight here is the piece 'Sycorax,' which incorporates a hefty dose of celtic influence. Bagpipes (or at least, a synthesized bagpipe emulation) are used here very liberally, and give a very catchy hook to the music. Barring that, there are quite a few other ethnic leads that are thrown in amongst the ambient work, including some oriental woodwind work and Indian percussion. The thing this album really lacks however, is songwriting itself. While there are a few scarce melodies here and there, the music feels very dry and could really use some life and beauty to it.
The music on 'Planetary Dust' cannot be considered out of the ordinary for Senmuth, but the album does enjoy a greater sense of flow and album cohesion that the typical release from this Russian one man project. In any case, there is some very dark ambient and industrial material here, and a fan of both genres should check out this piece of music.