twincities ~ memoirs: to dust

covertwincities (Fletcher McDermott) has come a long way since Make a Joyful Noise.  The guitar and bass have been swapped for viola and cello, and the post-rock for ambience.  Even the celesta is gone.  On his new album, the artist appears to have found his voice, a slightly ironic statement due to the fact that the album is all about losing.  Sound, note, and impression fade into a smear of tone and timbre.  McDermott calls this the “sound of decay”, and while it may be a familiar sound to ambient aficionados, it’s especially well done here.

The organic instruments make all the difference.  Glockenspiel notes pop to the surface, then sink into the mire; a string line emerges, floating listlessly atop turgid waters.  A microcosm of this approach can be heard in “gentle melody”, whose title says everything one needs to know.  Instruments descend into static; memories fade into dust.  And yet, before this happens, they surge one final time, softened by the years, abraded at the edges: the love which once caused pain, now inspiring only wistfulness; the loss which led to depression, now conjuring only melancholy.  Time may not heal all wounds, but it still manages to sand their surfaces.  If every sharpness remained as sharp, the human heart could not bear the weight.

The cello and violin – or rather, the threads of cello and violin – lend the album an air of elegance.  The more established the initial sound, the greater the impact of its decay.  Here again we find reference to a date.  On Make a Joyful Noise, it was August 15th; here it is September 4th.  Something significant happened, we know not what.  Cars pass in the distance; the glockenspiel sounds the album’s clearest notes.  And then rattle, crackle, wind, distant strings bearing a hint of “Taps”.  Farewell, whoever you are, whatever you were, borne to some distant shore, intact there yet already fading here.

Memories fade, so we write them down; but one day the ink will fade, the pages will crumble, and even our memoirs will turn to dust: like these sounds, sabi, the beauty of decay.  (Richard Allen)

Available here

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