Review Summary: Finding a harmony between merciless beauty, and unforgiving hostility.
James Leyland Kirby is an artist who has remained undoubtedly prolific throughout his career. From his early origins as V/Vm in the mid-90s, to his ongoing, and currently most acclaimed project, The Caretaker. Where V/Vm was a noise colliding mad-scientist of experimental sounds and oddball remixes, The Caretaker is a ballroom-inspired affair of pre-war parlour jazz seen through modern eyes; where once cheerful and optimistic sounds filled the air, haunting and cerebral memories reside, fallen victim to time. Most recently Kirby has begun to release music under his own name, starting with 2009's Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was; a three-part juggernaut of captivatingly clear-headed, pastoral scores of ambient. This work is somewhat collateral to The Caretaker, as both can evoke strong emotional qualities through their subtle conceptual themes of time and memory. Although where The Caretaker's dark and time regressive recordings utilize vinyl noise to capture lost memories, Leyland Kirby's drowsy orchestrations of emotional un-ease and underlying drone eject a stark contrast between merciless beauty, and unforgiving hostility.
That contrast is essentially the key to understanding Eager To Tear The Stars Apart. It's interesting to note how similar its cover art is to The Caretaker's An Empty Bliss Beyond This World; like they should been seen as companion pieces. Although this is hard to believe, because Tear The Stars Part is diverse in an entirely different way. Its six recordings each manage to embrace a varying set of tones, moods, and instruments. The album opens with 'The Arrow Of Time', striking deeply embedded piano keys that harrow through a distressing climate, while whimsical drones softly sweep away the damp debris. It's a deceive first impression of the resulting elegance that follows it. "This Is The Story Of Paradise Lost" drowns the opening affliction in a stream of gorgeous piano reflections, escorted by frail murmurs that vaporize the liquid successions. That seemingly unrestrained delicacy is guided by a soft haze of static electricity, subtly meandering in the distance.
Not only is there a clear contrast from song to song, but also within songs themselves. This is best noted on 'They Are All Dead, There Are No Skip At All', where child-like vibraphones carry an innocent melody through a body of arresting harps, as meteor encompassed static plunges to the ground; resonating an almost forceful contrast between opposing moods. That opposition can lead to questioning the very purpose of the song, unaware if it's suppose to be uplifting, or disheartening. Although precisely what that opposition does to is it creates a consistent harmony between different moods; like an unsettling swan-song. This may sound a little far-fetched, but even the title of the song suggests this. "They Are All Dead", a blatant and depressing phrase joined by, "There Are No Skip At All", which could be a deliberate grammar mistake to evoke the child-like innocence of its instrumentation.
"We are weighed down, every moment, by the conception and the sensation of time. And there are but two means of escaping this nightmare: pleasure and work. Pleasure consumes us. Work strengthens us. Let us choose." - Charles Baudelaire. That quote can bring a great deal of understanding to Eager To Tear The Stars Apart. There are those who will listen to it, and hear pretty, pleasurable background ambient music. And there are those who will listen to it, and hear mind-altering sonic perceptions of their own lives, and will become interested in working to hear all it has to offer. Both are equally acceptable conclusions to come to after listening to Eager To Tear The Stars Apart; it's just a matter of finding out which side your on.
This is the primary project of the main artist in The Caretaker, right? If so, I must acquire it immediately. Also, Pitchfork is a group of pretentious, elitist pricks, but those elitist pricks do dig or discover some great music from time to time; even if their intentions in doing so are a bit suspicious. Also, just to emphasize how douchey Pitchfork is truely capable of being, he's an excerpt from their review of Animal Collective's Here Comes The Indian:
"The moves were simple, really: I could still whoop like an injun, flapping my nubs over my mouth to bawl rhythmically. Holding my hands up into my ears, all the sounds flickered like primitive wah-wah pedals along a cave wall. Even with these hands, I could still clap, and did so right in the middle of the Gibby-tronic slurs and screams of "Hey Light". The wolf-howled bursts quieted into snapping pattycakes and chanted rounds around the dying embers. These communal murmurs were far removed from their first spastic sounds. Panda Bear showed that by tightening my hands into balled fists, my very arms could become drumsticks, conveying endless energy, every surface a percussive experiment. Even as I tap out this recollection, they clack against the keys rhythmically, moving with the rounds of distorted campfire singing; not as a regular beat, but as something stumbled upon and followed into the wild."
Yeah Leyland Kirby is The Caretaker. I think you would really like this one Pat. I'm pretty shocked it
doesn't have any ratings yet, just as good as any ambient released this year (A Winged Victory For The
Sullen I'm looking at you).