Ed Carlsen‘s The Journey Tapes is not a series of tapes, but a CD. From this we understand that the journey is symbolic. The bittersweet nature of these compositions (whose titles include “Cage”, “Grey” and “Rain”) leads us to believe that some sadness may have been involved. Perhaps a relationship ended; perhaps the artist left his home. Along the way, he played these tapes in his head, over and over, attempting to salvage some modicum of happiness from the sorrow, some gratitude from the despair. It was not all bad, was it?
The opening track, “Close”, is particularly mournful, with hints of birds and children, happiness to be found somewhere, close. But how close? On the album’s only vocal track, Julia Krog Jensen sings, “only wanting to be held … still kept in the blind.” But she also sings, “Now I’m learning.” We can learn through our losses, but we don’t always do so. We can miss our childhood, or be thankful that we were once children, and are now old enough to watch over children of our own. Whenever Carlsen integrates the sounds of cutlery, shells and chairs (shades of “Hyperballad”!), his childlike nature shines through: he hasn’t left it all behind, and nor should we.
But as much as we tend to idealize childhood, we forget that it is often melancholic, as represented by “Rain”; one imagines a sad face, pressed against the rain-streaked pane, mourning the opportunity to play outside. It’s difficult to break out of such a mood, and Carlsen leaves himself little time to do so: only two tracks on the main release. The strings seem unable to escape the downward tug, even as the bass and percussion attempt to lift their spirits. The closing piece starts with a sigh before moving into wistful, wordless song. The artist’s intention is to move from black to white, but he succeeds only in moving from darker grey to lighter grey. Still, such encouragement is realistic: the idea of moving forward in increments, rather than in leaps. This journey is far from over. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 13 September