In 2017, Jilk left fans with the encouraging phrase, “Everything is going to be okay.” The world situation has changed a lot since then, making repetitions of the sentiment even more crucial. The new release may be instrumental, but its calm, measured tone seems an echo of this essential message.
Endless Rushing Waves of the Same was composed during the current crisis, but is not directly about the crisis; it’s about friendly and creativity, as the artists used their sudden down time to share files and create something of value. As the band puts it, this is “music for sitting with your family, your pets and your plants,” a celebration of the gifts that can be found even in the midst of turmoil. All of the usual Jilk hallmarks are here: crisp mastering, beautiful bells, bouncy beats and waves of ambience, along with a few surprises: cinematic surges on the opening piece, a smidgen of trombone on “All Gentle Creeping,” and some welcome field recordings.
It’s worth taking a closer look at the cover image, a Sgt. Pepper’s of toy characters ranging from Totorro to E.T. to Groot. The intertwining of toys and shrubbery seems like nostalgia mingled with hope. Those with smaller children have been playing with and/or stepping on a lot more toys than usual, and such characters can help us to get through any crisis. And in a way, a laptop (especially its more musical settings) is a toy for adults: a way to play, detox, unwind.
Although the EP is too active to be called ambient, it does bring out Jilk’s ambient side. “All Gentle Creeping” and “Last Star Stops” come across as a diptych, yielding a growing sense of frolic. But the highlight is the quarter-hour title track, a spiritual successor to “Become the Build” from Joy in the End. The track begins placidly with sheep and soft rain before introducing skittering electronics. After this it builds in layer and volume until it encroaches on drone: receding in the center before it rises to even greater heights. By the end, the birds are singing in the trees; the highest string notes suggest a human voice as well. Listening is like being propelled into a close and comforting future, a spiritual meadow by a sweet stream where quiet waves lap against the shore.
The closing timbres of “Last Star Stopped” hearken back to “Last Star Stops,” forming a connective thread. The repetition of themes causes one to reevaluate the title. The Endless Rushing Waves of the Same may seem like the weight of routine or the tug of melancholy, but may also be endless waves of comfort from friends, family and faith. The overall message: there is still beauty in the world, more than enough to go around, replenished daily by creator and creation. (Richard Allen)