The vastness, loneliness and stark beauty of the American Southwest provided ample inspiration for Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens (aka Morriconez) in his previous bands, including George & Caplin and Wentworth Kersey. On Cloud of Dust, Cry of Death, he's refined and crystallized his love affair with the high desert and the lonesome prairie into something gorgeous. The instrumentals that make up the bulk of the album are uniformly excellent, built on minimal, looping guitar figures and washes of trumpet and synthesizer, with drums that tend to amble along beside the tune rather than drive it forward. The occasional vocal tracks are a mixed bunch, but none are so much bad as they are distracting. This is the aural equivalent of shimmering heat distortion rising off the highway on a long drive through nowhere: surreal, fleetingly beautiful, and tinged with an ineffable, otherworldly sadness.


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