Endless Melancholy ~ Fragments of Scattered Whispers / PRINT/TRACK 05 (with Hotel Neon)

Endless Melancholy has two new releases on the market, both excellent: the album Fragments of Scattered Whispers on Dronarivm and a 10″ split with Hotel Neon on THESIS.  The Ukrainian artist continues to produce music that takes the edge off the day, like a stiff drink without the headache.  In these releases he continues to expand his boundaries ~ not dramatically, but slowly, like a contented stretch.

Fragments of Scattered Whispers is as ethereal a title as one can imagine (Clouds of Billowing Dreams might be another).  As one might expect, the theme is nostalgia, communicated through kind piano and drones.  The difference is the presence of Krzysztof Sujata (Valiska), who runs the recordings through the gauze and light distortion of additional tape.  One can hear the notes warble a bit as they move forward, still in a straight line but not as steady on their feet.  “Prologue (For A Broken Tape Recorder”) sets the stage, and from here we expect old postcards to fall from the sky.

Endless Melancholy’s strength is in his extended notes, as they echo his moniker by producing the feeling that the stream of time is flowing away, perhaps even evaporating.  These are strongest in “Will You Be There,” giving way to splintered melodies that continue to sparkle like remembered but broken promises.  But the album’s greatest moment occurs when the clouds clear, if only momentarily, in “Her Fragrant Beauty.”  Suddenly there is clarity, like that of an elderly person recalling a memory perfectly for the first time in years.  When the notes again begin to spin away, one can sense the person trying to grip them all the more tightly.  This feeling is repeated in the closing track, “Washed Away By Slow Currents,” which carries the theme slowly and sadly out to sea.

The lovely abstract cover art comes from Gregory Euclide, who is also ~ surprise ~ the owner of the relatively new THESIS label.  This label has been coming on strong over the past few years, releasing limited handmade records that present the work of some of our favorite artists, including Aaron Martin, Sophie Hutchings and Rafael Anton Irisarri.  One of our readers wrote in to tell us that the records he’s purchased from THESIS are among his most cherished physical objects.  The label offers two ongoing series, THESIS and PRINT/TRACK, and one release under the ARRANGEMENT banner as well.  Half of the tracks eventually make their way to a CD collection, while the other half remain exclusive.

PRINT/TRACK 05 showcases Endless Melancholy’s “Elusive Movements” on Side A and Hotel Neon’s “Gleó” on Side B.   These are generous, 10-minute pieces, each meant to create and sustain a mood.  “Elusive Movements” continues the ethereal theme, setting the stage with warm synths that establish a base camp before the piano moves in.  Valiska does not seem to be involved here, as the notes stay where they are played, looping like cherished thoughts, eventually ceding ground to a slower mode of reflection.  A light catharsis is achieved by the rising chords of the final minutes.  Then it’s Hotel Neon’s turn.  “Gleó” (which may mean “mirth, joy or music”) begins with rain, leading to safe conversation behind varnished windows.  The low drones take their time like a lazy afternoon, fluffing the sonic field like a pillow.  The overall effect is one of comfort.  The tracks are expertly paired like wine and cheese, working in tandem to extend a welcome to the weary traveler.  Only a third of an hour has elapsed, but the listener already feels the weight of the world falling away.  (Richard Allen)

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