Besides the witty title this has nothing to do with David Bowie but a lot to do with another White Duke: Trent Reznor. The Nine Inch Nails guru tapped Saul Williams to open for him and the two hit it off with Reznor producing and contributing most of music and arraignments to this effort. Tardust is packed full of skitterish beats and distorted sluggish bass bumps, basically industrial dance music. The most hip-hop leaning tracks are the opener “Black History Month” and “Tr(n)igger” which samples Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome” while speaking directly to the black community about self inflicted violence. There are also quite a few straight rock songs such as “Convict Colony” and the oddly lame cover of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” which adds nothing to the original at all. Reznor seems to keep one tempo throughout most of the 70+ minutes, which begins to drag through too much in murkiness towards the end.
Williams is obviously more comfortable on Def Poetry Jam then he would be as a true MC at a jumping house party. There is little joy and few choruses’s, as the album works more as art and will not be bumping from many car speakers on the block. This should be refreshing, however in the age of Mash-up’s and User Generated Content this pairing which contains promise often bores, the novelty is gone and what is left doesn’t rope you in. For someone who has “Got the whole host of angels shuffling on my I-pod” Williams doesn’t mix much up over 15 tracks.
On this “official” CD release Williams does include 5 bonus tracks, and one of those is far and away the standout, “List of Demands (Reparations)” which was used in a Nike Commercial earlier in the year, is blistering example of what this pair should have been striving for. “List of Demands (Reparations)” along with the nightmarishly fantastic “Skin of a Drum” are worth seeking out, but download those two and save some time.