Janek Schaefer ~ Glitter in my tears

Glitter in my tears is an unfulfilled promise, its life cut short time and again by daydreams had deep into the night. It marks the 20th anniversary of Janek Schaefer’s first release, perhaps mired in hopes lost by now, a way of looking back that reproduces the undetermined, shapeless form of memories slowly unwound over the years. According to the artist, “the album was composed over the last decade, in moments when most people are asleep in the dark, while the lucky ones are still dancing in the lights.” Evidently caught in-between, in a limbo of living death (or deathly living), Glitter is awash in undecidability, growing and fading in multiple directions at once, never quite achieving the concreteness of a drone or a specific ambience. Instead, it flows like a torrent of remembrances whose only overarching connection is a mixed feeling of sadness and joy, the shining warmth of loves lost and paths not taken.

The album is composed of many short pieces (26 in total, of which the longest is the first at 6 minutes of length) that often take common themes (like the Nutcracker Suite in “Hells Bells”) and collapses them kaleidoscopically upon themselves, allowing deviations of their commonplace emotional associations to emerge. The original story of the Nutcracker involved an enchanted dream in which a broken Christmas utensil became a handsome, heroic prince that saves a girl from vermin; a tale of romantic fulfillment later musicalized in a way we now traditionally associate with ‘sweet dreams’, it becomes in “Hells Bells” the repeating, driveling motif of a fading nightmare in which fulfillment is forever in escape, never able to complete the tune we all know by heart, always already slipping away from memory. We’ve all experienced troubled sleeping, with images darting incoherently at breakneck speed, the broken and withering records skipping so much we wake up in a sweat unable to remember anything. No wonder were sleep and death brothers in some Greek mythological accounts: the tears we shed while dreaming are opaque.

There’s an opposite side to this twisting of common themes, in the sense that there’s more than a few pieces which take a droning base that wears off the noisy edge, making them feel like music you’ve already heard elsewhere. It’s a bit like The Caretaker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s approach in Love is a Stream, with anonymous, lovely melodies of romance fading in and out of electronic dissonance. Schaefer’s limbo swirls with hopes that turn into regrets and viceversa, a point at which memory is stranded between the obsidian of sleep and the starry-eyed dancing in the light, as in the transition from “What Comes Around” to “Distant Signs”, in which a simple disco beat dissolves in volume shifts that give way to a grating, quickly disappearing drone-like noise. Only in such a state of simultaneous flight and stagnation would tears have glitter – half-living, half- dead, trying to find the ashes of the future in the dark glow of a past that flickers in every reflection of the present’s mirror. Only in such an in-between place would you find the radiant beauty of fulfillment and loss brought together as one. (David Murrieta)

Available here.

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