London’s Kostoglotov calls his sound “lo fi minimalist punk noise rock”, but Our Beautiful Decay also contains ambient, drone and electronic elements. Some lurk in the background, preparing to pounce; by the final track, the noise emerges in full force. This beautiful decay is less subtraction than entropy. Form gives way to measured chaos, melodic tendrils to dread.
Early on, the opposite force seems to be present. In the final fifth of “In Defense of the Decay”, a carousel-like song pokes through the darkness of the bass while a slightly distorted beat provides a safety net. But then again, one can’t have decay without first having raw material to decay. The foreground notes of “All the Lights” imply business as usual, but fuzzed-out guitar provides a hint of what is to come.
Decay is not necessarily something to be feared; time and tide happen to us all. The implication is that value rests in the appreciation of the intact. For some, this may mean the body, mind, or spirit; for others, buildings and trees. In Japanese culture, a weathered face is an example of beauty. In art, an earned patina can be the subject of avid devotion. “You, Me and the sun” shimmers like a peak experience that can only be polished by memory. On this and “The first time we lost our minds”, shoegaze echoes reverberate like fading lights. But then the darkness begins to arrive; the decay sets in. As the album grows murkier, one is presented with a choice between gratitude and regret. For many, the response will be mingled, a bittersweet nostalgia. The title doesn’t have to be oxymoronic; Kostoglotov seems to be saying that all things come to an end, but that this knowledge can help us to appreciate the present. As the closing title, “I wanted that summer to last forever”, indicates, an impossible wish is still a wish, a projection of imaginative yearning. (Richard Allen)