The Caretaker
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World


4.5
superb

Review

by MisterTornado CONTRIBUTOR (47 Reviews)
June 9th, 2011 | 113 replies | 12,798 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The haunting echo of forgotten ballrooms, as revealed through the surface noises of antique phonographs and lost realities.

When I first heard about James Leyland Kirby's ambient project The Caretaker, it was one of the most intriguing reads I'd ever had. I had read that his music was heavily inspired by the ballroom scene in The Shining, one of my personal favorites. That particular sequence is striking. The way Kubrick framed those shots, slowly panning through the ballroom; it was like a moment through haunted history. How utterly atmospheric that scene is. It still manages to make me grin like Alex DeLarge whenever I think about it. Then, to hear about an artist who makes music that develops on that very thought? That just completely blew me away.

The Caretaker's latest took me back to that scene, but also somewhere else altogether. There is a constant theme at play, beyond taking old ballroom 78s and giving them a ghostly accent, these fifteen tracks represent lost musical memories. Described as distant memories of Alzheimer's patients who can recall musical recordings longer than they can other memories, it's a conception that brings a passionate heaviness to the music. These songs aren't just dark spaces of American history, but the fading memories of the people of that history.

Kirby paints that concept beautifully through the cracked frame of his cobweb stricken canvas. Songs end abruptly due to the sweeping of memory from consciousness, something an Alzheimer's patient would likely experience. Whether these memories appear as dark piano halls, forgotten ballrooms, or distant concerts, the result is stunning. To bring concept furthermore, individual songs are broken up through the track listing to give a sense of fractured logic, proving that a memory can appear at any time.

An Empty Bliss Beyond This World completely redefines what "Ambient" music can be and how far it can go. You can hear vinyl crack like rain, you can hear the deep resonance of hollowed pianos, and you can hear real distance within the music. Sounds that are so far away, yet so close. When horns appear, it's some of the most sublime and entrancing sounds I've ever heard, particularly under the delayed keys of 'Libet's Delay' and the closing track. When I listen to a song like 'A relationship with the sublime', I can stare at a wall and make it feel like it's the most important part of my day. It's entrancing, emotional, and timeless music that anyone with two ears and an affection for the past can get lost into.



Recent reviews by this author
ECO VIRTUAL ATMOSPHERES 第2Oneohtrix Point Never Commissions I
Echo Lane Afterschool Inc. bikes clouds cranes phonesTaku Sugimoto Quartet / Octet
White Suns TotemDelroy Edwards Teenage Tapes
user ratings (94)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Nick Butler EMERITUS (3.5)
Dixieland jazz meets inner-city depression in one of the year's most beguiling albums....


Comments:Add a Comment 
MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Some of my favorites from the album

The Sublime Is Disappointingly Elusive: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfBs0p_RRaE
A Relationship With Sublime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoQrzjkMRm4&feature=related
Libet's Delay: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Vzw0E7qMJs

You can stream the full album at bandcamp
http://thecaretaker.bandcamp.com/album/an-empty-bliss-beyond-this-world

Digging: Ju Sei and Utah Kawasaki - ??????

Yotimi
June 9th 2011



6275 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A Stairway to the Stars is pretty good. I'll have to give this a try, sounds interesting

North0House2
June 10th 2011



5617 Comments


This sounds pretty awesome, I'll check it out.
Good review, pos.

Ssssssss
June 10th 2011



683 Comments


lol saw this, it reminded me of scary movie

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
June 12th 2011



1588 Comments


Quite like the review, and the album is indeed a pretty cool concept. Just wish you'd get rid of this sentence in your conclusion "An Empty Bliss Beyond This World completely redefines what "Ambient" music can be and how far it can go."

I'm not knocking on the song, but saying it redefines ambient music is overstating its significance and getting carried away a bit there.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm not talking about the song "An Empty Bliss Beyond This World", I'm talking about the album as a whole. I believe it that statement isn't overstating anything.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
June 12th 2011



1588 Comments


Meh, I'm happy to make that statement whether you were referring to the song or the album as a whole. I mean how exactly does this redefine ambient?



MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 13th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

To me it redefines ambient style music because of how deep the music is. It's not just a matter of taking synthesizers and droning them out to create a sense of emotion; this album takes historic music from the source (early Gramophone records) and manipulates them to create a cohesion and depth that breathes new life out of old and forgotten documents. This style reminds me a lot of William Basinski's work, where you’re taking physical objects like records or tape decks to create a specific sound. I'm not talking about just sampling, but using the instrument's physical condition to create atmosphere.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 14th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Got an 8.2 on pitchfork, apparently it's hip now.

Fluorine
June 22nd 2011



104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Strip away the high concept which you only learn about outside the music (a concept which the overfawning music press who like to fancy themselves intellectual for an intellectual readership will be sure to tell you about) and the cool track titles. You're left with something completely unremarkable. It's recycled tunes hardly altered but given a new context by an admittedly interesting but still distrating backstory.
The Caretaker is essentially trying to sell you a pig dressed in fine linen.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
June 25th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If the "pig" in that dress is suppose to be the vintage ballroom sound, your completely off. Whether or not you believe these sounds are simply overt samples with a little contextualizing isn't relevant to me, but there's no denying the beauty in alot of these tracks.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 5th 2011



14885 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i have no idea how much work kirby himself actually did on these vinyl samples, but this is really really cool and evocative. definitely "high-concept" in the vein of, say, basinski's disintegration loops (which i find insufferable), but nonetheless a great listening experience

ECRbubs
July 12th 2011



687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agree with robertsona

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 13th 2011



14885 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

libet's delay is soooo cool

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
July 14th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Libet's Delay is lovely, reminds me unquestionably of the ballroom scene from The Shining

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2011



14885 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"a relationship with the sublime" is like barely a 10 second loops but it just kills me

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I got that vibe too. The whole album would make a suiting Lynch score as a matter of fact.

BallsToTheWall
August 6th 2011



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Want to get into this band.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



4230 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Want to get into this band."

This is a great album to start

Crowe
August 8th 2011



435 Comments


I listened to this once, but I definitely prefer A Persistent Repetition of Phrases. Still, I'll listen more.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy