There is a heart-rending melancholia in Guy Gelem’s Entirety, an atmospheric sadness that grounds the whole album onto a reverent mood. “Letters”, the opening track, serves as a powerful introduction to a tearful state of reverie, hinting with its post-rock overtones at a kind of emotion that is far from bleak. On the contrary, its intensity belies its vital pull towards a life suddenly within the grasp of sorrow. It is, perhaps, the strange feeling of dissociation you can get after being away from a place that deep in your unconscious you still call ‘home’, the place you still dream of, where your memories blend.
Written after re-encountering the Middle-Eastern music of his native Israel after a long period in which Gelem lived in the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom, Entirety feels like a homage to this very particular form of loss. After all, with the act of going back to your country of origin and finding that places you knew have physically changed, or that your friends are somehow different than how you remember them, or even that some of them might be gone forever, comes a shock; it is not the paralyzing kind, where you can’t breathe because all that time, all those years, catch up with you in a matter of seconds, it is the kind that adds an unknowable sense of weight to your every action. Entirety’s beautiful cello melodies provide a melancholic thread to the album, supported often by electronic drones that make them heavier, that surround them with the static of something impossible to recover. It is you, in the end, that which you have left behind, a you that only exists in daydreams and moments of longing.
The Arabic musical forms that make the album so interesting provide a small notion of this sort of re-encounter with yourself, of coming to terms with whatever the actual you knows over that mirror-image of a you perennially trapped in time. It is from a distance where you are able to see (and hear) all of those things you didn’t know you left behind, all those little details that you never truly understood were so important to your becoming. This moment is as sad as it is happy, as fulfilling as it is draining – without one canceling the other, since, like the picked cello strings and the bright electronics of “The Secret” at the very center of the album, they relate to different aspects of the same thing, the same person, the same music. All of it comes from that instant in which the heart broke, in which familiarity merged with lament.
Gelem has crafted an intricate, moving work, one that is best listened to, perhaps, at the best of times, simply because it might remind you of all those things beyond your sight, beyond your hearing, all those emotions on the verge of swooping in and drawing out a tear for all those selves you’ve lost in the way. Don’t worry: like a haze of tremolo guitar, ever flowing upwards, they will roam your memories and fantasies, till you remember them no more. (David Murrieta)