Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Caretaker - "An Empty Bliss Beyond This World" (LP Review)

A few months ago I purchased the most recent (at the time) LP by The Caretaker, 2011's "An Empty Bliss Beyond This World".  A couple of years ago I reviewed his 2008 LP "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" and I was completely blown away by The Caretaker's entire aesthetic of reprocessed collective nostalgia.  I won't repeat myself here -- read my review of PROP for the necessary context of this work. 

At first listen, AEBBTW is very similar to PROP: if you like one, you'll certainly like the other.  But there are subtle differences that are only apparent on careful listening.  PROP (metaphorically) broadly explored the notion of memory and aging (e.g., with song titles like "Von Restorff Effect" and "Lacunar Amnesia"), while AEBBTW focuses specifically on Alzheimer's.  While the songs draw from the same source material, here they are less processed than the songs on PROP; there is less of a hazy, dream-like quality to them.  There is more looping, frequent abrupt termination to the songs, and a generally less linear feel to the songs. 

An interesting note is that James Kirby (aka The Caretaker) has retired his V/Vm Test Records label and is instead releasing on his newly established label History Always Favours The Winners.   I also recommend the reviews at Altered Zones and, the latter of which does a good job comparing this LP to other artists with which I'm unfamiliar. 

Standout songs: Picking out individual songs is difficult, but if forced to do so I'd say be sure to listen to "Libet's Delay" and "Camaraderie At Arms Length".  I'm not sure how they'd sound out of context, so fortunately Altered Zones has uploaded the entire LP.

Skip 'em songs: n/a

Final score: 9/10.  While this is an impressive LP, I have a preference for the ghost-like quality of "Persistent Repetition of Phrases".

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