There’s a pretty cover here, although you’ll need to tilt your screen to see it. There can be hope in desolation, although it may take time to find it. Our Gravity Ends is an extremely morose album, inspired by the loss of the artist’s mother. The album is an invitation into grief.
José Soberanes last appeared on these pages with The Rising Tide, which bore teacups of heartbreak next to the buckets of Our Gravity Ends. This mournful cassette integrates field recordings in a manner similar to that of Ondrej Zajac, whose ICU was based on his own hospital stay; but the outcome here is far starker. For this reason, there’s little hope even in the early tracks; “645” seems to include the perfunctory hitting of ice in a cup in order to break it into smaller chunks, while “Anxiety” includes buzzes and suction. It’s hard to see a loved one in such distress and to be unable to help, save to accompany their fear and distress.
The tape loops recall the thoughts that churn in circles in the mind of both griever and soon-to-be-departed, especially the beautiful bells of “1934”. There is such regret ~ as Kate Bush sings, “all the things we should have said that I never said”. The classical surge of “Frozen” is especially poignant, offering a momentary escape. But then the hospital sounds seep back in, a throat chortle in the final seconds of “Discomfort” the most uncomfortable sound. The titles betray the fact that the album is tilting inexorably toward a wrenching finale: “Too Late to Tell You”, “Her Last Minutes on Earth”.
Our Gravity Ends is a difficult listen, simultaneously intimate and removed, an artist attempting to process in public what he feels in private. Hospital monitors, rain and radio stations reflect only the outer veneer. In time, one hopes that the artist will be able to integrate his suffering into a different sort of tribute: one that recalls his mother’s life more than it reflects her death. The nature of grief is to crystallize around a moment of loss, but the nature of recovery is to expand into begrudging gratitude: acknowledging that despite our losses, we are more grateful to have had our loved ones with us than we are destroyed by their departure. (Richard Allen)