Vastly different from David Newlyn‘s Deterioration, reviewed here earlier this year, The Misspelled Numbers EP walks listeners into the autumn with “pastoral hums, voices in the rafters and other educational oddities”. Although it refers to school, the EP doesn’t sound like school; at least not like an occupied school. Instead, it sounds like a creaking, forlorn building that longs for its children to return but is worn out and chipped at the end of each day. Those familiar with Peanuts may remember Linus speaking to the building while on summer break, apologizing for his absence.
One does not often think of numbers as articles that can be misspelled, but the slight pause engendered by the title creates a pleasant dislodging. One has to think in order to understand; the brain may throb for a pulse or two in the service of calculation. In like fashion, one strains to hear the words of the lecturer in “Seance 17”, but descends into reverie. Perhaps the building itself wishes the lecture to end, thinking of meadows and brooks, yearning for an escape that never comes, bemoaning “The Lost Time”. Such is a pleasant daydream, an intimation that the outside world offers sufficient pleasures to trump the din of human noise. At the end of the piece, the ticking clock fades, the rustles subside, the clacking heels retreat, the door slams shut. And then the thoughts turn to wind chimes and passing cars, the world outside close enough to touch. Closing pieces “Into the Sunshine” and “Over the Water” lap against each other like the competing fantasies of youth, overflowing with promises of achievement and love.
The enclosed school card and tiny negative enclosed serve as nostalgic reminders of something that was less likely to inspire nostalgia when today’s grown-ups were going through it; perhaps only in snippets can the past be reassessed in a gentler fashion. As the edges of memory are softened, one’s approach to the world is softened as well; one learns to let the more painful memories escape and grows grateful for the shimmering slivers that poke through the edges. The old halls are still there, but seem to have shifted size; it’s all a trick of perspective. (Richard Allen)