The third of Wist Records’ jackdaw releases, The Afternoon Vision is yet another example of attentive packaging given to a splendid release. It’s also one of Lost Trail‘s kindest recordings to date. One might even call it – yes, pun intended – wistful.
As with the previous jackdaw releases – Being’s The Folkestone Lighthouse and loscil’s City Hospital – a story begins to take shape even before the music is played. This particular release includes a soil survey and legend, containing “information that can be used in managing farms and woodlands; in selecting sites for roads, ponds, buildings, and other structures; and in judging the suitability of tracts of land for farming, industry, and wistful wandering.” (There’s that word again!) This seems as dry as brittle earth, until one reaches the part about a computer card that can “access the silent sound spectrum.” Say what now? And by the time one starts reading about entry points to abandoned buildings, one realizes that this isn’t too far afield from Lost Trail’s body of work. Denny and Zachary Corsa’s grainy, abraded photography falls in line with the ghostly art of prior releases, while Zachary Corsa’s haiku specifically references a former work (Holy Ring of Chalk).
And so why does this release feel so different? The smoky drones are still present, as are the warped tape monologues about religion and folklore. Backwards masking and empty projector reels are found lodged between bouts of feedback and unsettled ambience. The answer may be found in the fact that The Afternoon Vision is midway between what one expects a Wist Records release to sound like and what one expects a Lost Trail release to sound like. Each is fascinated by history, but approaches from a different angle: Lost Trail from found tapes and random encounters, Wist Records from research and structure. Each shares a love for the unexplained. It’s far better to suggest the aural reflection of a silent sound spectrum that to explain it.
The album (divided into two CD3″s) is presented as an excavation of buried resonances. This is never more apparent than on “It’s All Outskirts Here”, in which a string line is buried beneath a drone like a necklace in dirt. In other places, voices from the past haunt the proceedings; we suspect that the narrators are now deceased, which makes their observations seem even more eerie (especially on “Last Days Prophet Rag”).
In the end, while one may not gain a new appreciation for soil, one does feel a grudging admiration for a time in which life – corporal and ethereal – could be explained by observation and divination. The sonic fragments of the past have sunk into the earth, and even if we could dredge them up, we’d be unable to translate them. Lost Trail’s “Silent Sound Spectrum Lament” is an elegy not only for a thing that has been lost, but for the regard and appreciation for that thing. One day even the elegy will be gone, and nature will fill the vacuum with something far less valuable. (Richard Allen)