Negative experiences and traumatic events inflict punishing psychological effects on the mind. Our ability to cope, and recover, from such sudden, heartbreaking loss is suspended as shock sinks in deeply and quickly. Tragedy is a highly invasive trail that can last until the day we finally depart. These experiences, pregnant with suffering, can also sink into the very space in which the incident occurred, absorbed into the atmosphere and forever inviting a haunting presence.
‘Traumatic Attachments’ is a full length film, set in and around the neighbourhood of Burlington, North Carolina. The five-part film shapes a spectre of life, drifting in and around an area of abandoned buildings and shy, retreated relics peeling away in black decay. Shot beautifully, the companion music to the film circles around lost hope like a never-ending spell of drone deja vu.
Out of focus shots ghost in and out like trailing orbs, and the lighting limitations only increase an atmosphere of authenticity; the imperfect quality shapes a perfect vision. Far from the sidewalks, industrial leftovers corrode in the corners, void of visitors. This area of town is a ghost town, peacefully rusting away amid slowly panning shots of train carriages scribbled in graffiti and the light rustling of trees against desolate buildings awaiting demolition and life’s end. Music From ‘Traumatic Attachments’ adds further to the belief that music really does affect the environment and vice versa.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees; a light of white hope in loss, though duller than the glaring headlight beams drifting past the intersection. Lost Trail, the husband and wife duo of Zachary and Denny Corsa, conceal angels in the gutter, wounded with broken wings and lost opportunities waiting to be found. The gorgeous ambience bleeds a thin trace of musical melancholia, although it is never overt; she breathes quietly, a shushed town in a state of constant flux.
Focusing purely on the music, the images behind the lids mirror those on the physical reel of film. If we look even closer, vague lines that may be apparitions, stuck at the scene, start to emerge. The breathing, ethereal drone of “Industry” is a beautiful one, encouraging any spirits forward. Tragedies are called out over the radio in a roll call of painfully young lives lost. Radio frequencies share the same airwaves as lost spirits; a cause of death publicly announced like an act of prayer, a mournful passage that can finally help the passing over. A female voice loops over and over, free of emotion, and it’s this recurrence that re-enforces the shocking loss of a young life extinguished, as well as the painful longing for a soul that can never return. Dialogue is tastefully inserted and recounts a spiritual debate. A ghost box isn’t required to conjure voices from beyond; the music is more than capable.
An out of tune piano is in perfect tuning with her traumatic final days, a sound absorbed into the foundations of old, crumbling brick, now falling apart. Her slipped tuning may be due to a deep-set shock, but still she radiates a soulful fragility. Electricity pylons and faded dreams are wrapped in a star-spangled /mangled banner, stuttering like the American economy. “Motion” projects dizzying loops like white, circular blurs in the fading evening light. The ambience reflects lights on the highway, and car accidents waiting to happen; traumatic encounters seconds away in the rear-view mirror. Objects may seem closer than they appear.
Empty spaces, silent radios and faded photos create a solemn, yet beautiful mood. “Sprawl” features 19 minutes of the finest ambient drone, reflective and introverted; the music is a seance and an invitation. A static corrodes the ambience like a lost soul finally leaving for the light. Music is therapeutic; perhaps music Herself can heal our pain, consoling us in those dark times when all we have is a desperate cry. She’s there for us.
Forest parks, rivers and dense woodland bring us out into the light, but the vague ghosts are still here. The area of Burlington has changed; we have moved from industry to wilderness, and in the process the man-made has dissolved into the natural. Rainfall trickles over casual chords, strumming over serenity. The park is just as empty as the abandoned buildings seen earlier; it’s just a shade lighter. A remembrance of youth ensures that there’s no return; a set of playful years when all we had, all we needed, was sunshine. Nothing can intrude here, among the wildlife and a beautiful vocal that will surely crush your heart. The sadness comes from knowing that this environment will also fade over the years, yet the feeling of appreciation is free from decay.
Ambient drone such as this is a spiritual experience. Love for the art, for the music, blossoms out of Music From ‘Traumatic Attachments’, and this makes for very special music. Listening to this is anything but a negative experience, and there’s always hope for tomorrow. Redemption may still be possible, as the light fades over suburbia. (James Catchpole)