Lost Trail‘s latest album is their smoothest flowing work to date, a suite of drones, loops and recordings that address past lives. The title may refer to drinking, redaction or loss of memory, but it may also be applied to decayed tapes, which form the nucleus of Zachary and Denny Corsa’s work. As one listens, one wonders what has been hidden, obscured, lost, blacked out, and more importantly, why.
The three opening tracks are the restrained selections, while the fourth is an all-out drone, filled with lint and sonic debris. One can hear the ghosts of conversations embedded in the mix, struggling to be heard, propped on the periphery of understanding. Often associated with hauntology, these ghosts are also implied in the opening minutes of “A Parking Lot Gloaming”, which brings to mind the best work of The Caretaker. But closing with the drone work is a wise decision, as it moves the timbre forward instead of forcing it to go back and forth like a loose tooth.
The build to the finale is slow and measured, beginning with the bright ambient drones and sampled train tracks of “Nothing Is Real Until You Put It In The VCR” (great title!). The neighborhood children are playing in the yard; the adults are socializing, happy to be in the moment. “I’m going down and then I’m going back up!” a child yells; and then the sample repeats, intimating a loop of behavior, a pattern that needs to be broken, a reincarnated soul making the same mistakes. When the dialogue develops in track two, it does so with consistency: “If you commit yourself to ideals and purposes bigger than yourself, that will take more than one lifetime to accomplish, then it may be possible to find continuity of awareness.” One need not believe in reincarnation to find meaning in the passage, whose positive nature fights against the melancholy of the strings; it’s an invitation to break free.
In the final minutes (“Valleys”), Lost Trail presents a field recording of forest cutting. The local birds sound agitated as a chainsaw attacks their habitat; the children who seemed so happy in the opening track are now distant. As the sound of clearcutting fades, the old, detuned piano reappears in the static. Old wood, old sounds, old attitudes are being cut away, making room for new growth. As haunted as Lost Trail has often seemed to be, this ending sounds like sunshine. (Richard Allen)
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