Patience (After Sebald)
History Always Favours the Winners
The review below involves a digital version of Patience (After Sebald); it wasn’t listened to on the available vinyl record. Which is notable because one imagines a particularly surreal new element of irony that might come from listening to music so affected with hiss and scratch and out-and-out white-noise fog with the added bonus of your own needle travelling along a dusty, dog-hairy groove (or perhaps your room is cleaner than that, but still). This omnipresent texture—varying between a light hiss dusting and something almost jarring—is plenty literal: As with the Caretaker’s 2011 surprising indieland crossover/breakthrough, An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, Patience (After Sebald)—born as a soundtrack to the film of same name—is sourced from music from recorded sound’s dawn, and then cut up/looped/spliced by the Caretaker, aka ambient musician Leyland Kirby, into ghostly fog via a process that’s extremely adept at erasing its own tracks.
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World was all found ballroom records and the result was basically The Shining’s Overlook Hotel cut onto acetate. The source material in this case is Franz Shubert’s song cycle Winterreise and the net result is Franz Shubert’s Winterreise plus 184 years (it was published in 1828). At times the music is barely half-remembered as the core melody is subsumed in a sheet of sound mirroring the inside of an airliner, while piano notes dissolve underneath like orphaned old jet contrails. Or just as likely the whole song fades into just that one melody, looping again and again, and you’re not quite realizing it because you don’t have the whole song anymore, in the most powerful sense of maybe never having had it in the first place, which is all the terror and sadness of forgetting. In “The Homesickness That Was Corroding Her Soul,” a track somewhere in the middle of 45 minutes that mostly smears into one, frustration’s made audible better than the toughest NYHC song as one melody loops over and over, begging to resolve into something just out of reach. But whatever that resolution is is gone forever and that’s the point.