Review Summary: there's nobody here
Most people have the assumption that the soundtrack to the apocalypse is characterized by post-rock. Bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky are categorized by ambient passages supplemented by flowing crescendos and fleeting epic moments. But what actually will be the apocalypse? Hollywood features have us believe that movies like Armageddon
and The Day After Tomorrow
are forthright depictions of the end of the world, wherein we'll all be decimated in quick succession. That does keep in line with the atmospheric grandiosity of the post-rock genre, but in Daniel Lopatin's eyes, the apocalypse will be tinged with melancholy and wistful regret. Memory Vague
's abstract gazing into the doomed future makes it an excellent candidate to soundtrack our demise.
That sort of statement belies the fact that Memory Vague
isn't actually a complete LP, but a compilation of tracks sourced entirely from YouTube. One would think this meant that the album lacks any sort of cohesiveness, but in true Lopatin fashion, his style is so distinctive and translative across his body of work that no song feels out of place or detaches from the mood he builds on the record. Each song belies the dreary, meditative quality in their own way, and it consistently reaches the forlorn setting aimed at. "Ships Without Meaning" sounds like an 8-bit dreamscape come to life, echoing electronic chants from little sprites, while "Memory Vague" has a despondent aura, synths layered on top of each other as everything is crumbling, piece by piece. And "Unmaking The World" feels particularly aggressive in such an ambient anthology, a track that markedly embodies how Memory Vague
's semblance of hazy ambiance belies a coming cataclysm.
Were it not for Lopatin's ambivalence on clarifying what his albums are about, my sentiment here about what this record represents could very well be overblown and flat-out incorrect. Who in their right mind would connect an assortment of mere ambient electronic music videos to the collapse of humanity itself? Memory Vague
and its incongruity in regards to an overall acknowledged motif could be construed in all sorts of ways. However, the compositions that Lopatin produced on this LP doesn't require an ostensible understanding of his previous works' motifs or even the essential releases by his contemporaries. All that's left is the music. And when the end of the world arrives, will you really need anything else?