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Everywhere At The End Of Time


Figure 1: Reddit moment!!

If you were to listen to this without any context, you’d probably be asking yourself what the hell this is. But with the context, it’s just absolute dread, fear, and anguish

— Thomas Reid, under the YouTube™ comment section of the album

The comment above sums up the album quite well. What makes The Caretaker’s album so popular is not, frankly, the music in itself, but rather, the context and story surrounding it. As the reviews here are reviews of the music, I’ll have to do that first.

So what really does The Caretaker’s new album consist of? It’s quite obvious that it’s not exactly a musical wonder. Ballroom music with a vinyl crackle and pop filter, a reverb, and (what becomes more obvious during Stage 3) a delay.

Stage 1 and Stage 2 are exactly the same to my ear. Stage 1 has a superior choice of sampled music, what becomes apparent in for example the second song, We Don’t Have Many Days. But otherwise, sonically, those stages do not differ from their original samples in any significant way. As was said before, vinyl filter and call it a day. Of course, all of the stages are quite nostalgic (hauntological, I would dare to say). Nostalgic of a past no listener has never experienced.

What about Stage 3, however? There we find a bit more progress. The opening song is my favorite, as it sounds extremely cacophonic at times, and this is exactly where we can hear the delay at play (in, what I think is, the trumpet). Second song is our usual Stage 1 bullcrap, except overlaid with more crackles and pops and noise. Nothing special. Then, for some strange reason, there’s the first song but slowed down, and with more reverb. This is where we can quite obviously (if we hadn’t before, when The Caretaker added more le cool noise to the songs) notice the entire premise of the album. It’s supposed to be some magical journey through dementia, the scariest illness on Earth. So likely, the purpose of repeating it is to signify in a way that as you progress through dementia your memories become more blurry and noisy? Huh.

The Stage 3 tracks become progressively more choppy as you go, with more reverb and delay. To me, it’s quite a poor emulation of The Disintegration Loops, which portrays deterioration in an amazing manner, and I think, could be hailed as the de facto dementia “simulator”. There are parts, though, where The Caretaker shines in his representation of it. For example, I enjoy the parts where several layers of music appear randomly, in a microsound fashion, that makes it sound very wild.

Elaborating on my Basinski comparison, the reason why it’s so superior to this, is because the deterioration is so much more gradual. It’s almost as if you get lost in the music, then regain composure, and suddenly the entire song is unrecognizable. However in Everywhere At The End Of Time there are separate songs, and each song has their own, quick tempo of disintegrating. What would be great for this album would be to make it entirely one track, instead of seperate songs. Then the entire process would be much more touching.

After Drifting time misplaced, the sound takes on an ambient tone. Drones, crackles, pops. Sometimes a few melodies with a strange delay. But the sound definitely becomes much more empty and spacious. I don’t think I have to say (like a teenage redditor) what that signifies.

A few tracks afterwards, the album isn’t really interesting. It’s everything we’ve heard before with dark ambient—and not even executed very well. Quite poor drones with random sounds. Man, I though this was the time where the album would get ethereal, like come on! I can barely sit through this.

Oh crap, I’m at Stage 4? Well I didn’t notice that much, but I have to admit, the Stage 4 opening track was quite a bit more interesting than the previous stuff. Incredibly glitch-y and noisy, brings back memories from Oval’s album, 94diskont. with it’s microsound-like influences. It’s quite an interesting mess of sounds, to be frank. We’re out of the barely-can-call-this-art phase of the previous parts to something more interesting. In Post Awareness Confusions (of course, dementia patients don’t lose consciousness, so this is bullshit), there are some melodic parts as well, and what I supposed are brief flashes of actual instruments among the ambiance.

It’s extremely boring though. Like, really really boring. It’s supposed to be trance-like, but it’s just plain boring. At one point I just ended up turning it off for a while and reading and watching about dementia itself. It’s much more of an emotional experience than the album itself, like holy shit.

Now one would say, such is the nature of ambient music. It’s just boring. However, as Brian Eno said, ambient must be “as ignorable as it is interesting”. What Kirby did here is ignorable, but not interesting. Of course, I’m not going to say I don’t enjoy noise music or field recordings, but this? This is just unpleasant.

From here on out, I’ll just skip through the tracks until there’s something interesting. I endured 3 hours of this, there must be a hidden gem, right?

Alright, now Stage 5 is more interesting. It’s still sort of boring, but at least it’s less drones and more noise. Oval vibes, glitch-y stuff, quite cool. Not enjoyable in any way, though.

Stage 6? Disappointment. I saw a lot of memes about it, descriptions, how it’s transcendental, amazing, et cetera et cetera. However, it’s just dark ambient track #9999 that I’ve heard a million times before. If you want interesting noises, harsh noise wall is infinitely more interesting than this (Whaler by Sergey Pakhomov, for example). There are some blips of melodies in Stage 6, I’d like to notice, which continues the dementia motif. There’s one interesting soundscape towards the end of Long decline is over, a noise sound with an irregular tremolo, but that would be about it for Stage 6.

And now for the last song. The epitome, apogee, the zenith, the intense emotional experience driving you to the verge of tears. The years of brain damage from Alzheimer’s coalesce into a single song, a single tear in the broken memories of the patient, a blip of beauty at the very end, a call for help, or perhaps, the final relief of a dying soul… It really isn’t all that interesting. I guess it’s a sad funeral song, or some shit.

Thank God it’s finally over.

Rating: C+

OK, Leyland Kirby isn’t as Chad as Lula CĂ´rtes, but god damn it, his hair is quite amazing as well.

(I also wanted to talk about how the music itself isn’t what makes this popular, but rather the album art, names, and the whole premise, but everyone knows that already. That’s why I think this is a fraud—or maybe expertly designed by a postmodernist—album. However, it’s entry-level experimental, so that’s cool—more people will get into experimental music, I suppose, unless Derrida and Baudrillard were right.)

Author: zd