DUSTED with BRUCE PENINSULA and the SKELETONES FOUR at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, May 24), doors 8 pm. $12-$15. RT, SS. See listing.
After five solo albums, Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt finally feels confident with full musical self-expression - and he's abandoning his given name to do it.
Borcherdt's new project, Dusted, finds him teaming up with acclaimed producer Leon Taheny (also a member of Rituals and Bruce Peninsula) to make hazy, psychedelic fuzz-pop. Where his previous albums were "quick, honest offerings" of whatever he was writing at the time, the songs on Total Dust (out July 10 on Polyvinyl/Hand Drawn Dracula) were crafted and sequenced as a proper album.
Borcherdt made Total Dust in Taheny's garage studio/"idea tank" during a tour hiatus from Holy Fuck, a period in which everyone in the band but him had a baby.
"That had something to do with [starting Dusted], but I think it was more of a life choice," says the Toronto-based musician over pints on the Rivoli patio. "It's a realization that I have to do what I want to do now or I'll always regret it. I feel like I'm beyond the period of discovery. After all these years I finally know what I want to do, and that's Dusted."
The music isn't a drastic departure from the fragile, falsetto-delivered indie folk of his previous solo work, but where his earlier songs sounded a bit sparse and underwritten, Dusted moves beyond song sketches to employ crunchy guitar feedback, string arrangements, synths and percussion.
"I don't see myself as a typical solo-named singer/songwriter," says Borcherdt, munching on a sweet potato fry. "I feel like the name was dictating a genre but that the genre wasn't accurate.
"But singing through a little blown-out practice amp and a reverb pedal, now I feel like there's an aesthetic behind it. It's not just a guy in his bedroom with a guitar."
Dusted will still be a shock to anyone who only knows Borcherdt as the knob-twiddler in experimental electro band Holy Fuck, but there are similarities. Just as HF works within self-imposed limitations (no computers, no looping, no MIDI programming, only live instruments), Dusted's live show is dictated by however much Borcherdt and Taheny can play as a two-piece.
"When things are too finessed and methodical, too easy and colourful and sweet and accurate and perfect, it leaves a less lasting impression," he says. "I think compromise is one of the most underrated things in art."