You would not believe the sort of day I’ve had ~ the sort of day that can leave a person, worn out, bone tired, drained. Fortunately, I was able to come home to this calming cassette. Readers in search of intelligent, soothing music are advised to seek this one out.
Not all ambient music soothes. Some is best suited for the background; some is uneven or abrasive; some is somnambulant. Before We Lost Ourselves is a series of Basinski-inspired “infinite loops” (although not quite infinite; they end after an hour). Vintage equipment, field recordings and reverb play major roles. Eternal events are unfolding: galaxies are expanding, seasons are turning, generations are following generations and rivers are flowing to the sea. While listening, one does not sense an end. When one is in a state of disarray, this comes across as a comfort. One’s problems are temporal, but giants are moving across the sky. To listen is to surrender to this flow: not mired in the mud, but drifting down the stream.
The repeated scratches and orchestral samples tumble and move, albeit very slowly, looping and re-looping, coming across as slightly different each visit. The cassette repeats, but is not repetitive. In creating this cassette, M/M (Michael McGregor) is the cosmic clockmaker, setting the pieces in motion and allowing them to unfold as they will. The snowflake on the cover, as well as the titles of the side-long tracks (“It Gets Cold When the Sun Goes Down”, “In the Morning Air”) imply winter and stasis, a seemingly unending white. And yet the white does move; the warm eventually nudges the cold from its home. The movement is simply too incremental to observe, save over time. The same is often true of a problem, a period, a life.
Before We Lost Ourselves is the second release from Edinburgh (U.K.)’s new Czaska label, unveiled alongside Micromelancolié’s Leaving Hades. The two tapes are diametrically different, as one might glean from their titles. One soothes, while the other unsettles. By offering different styles on their inaugural cassettes, the label has demonstrated an openness to experimentation; the opening salvo has been impressive, and we offer our best wishes for future success. (Richard Allen)