Review Summary: thirteen o'clockThe Night Is…
plays with my perception of time. That’s not to say that it makes it pass quicker when I listen, or even that it removes me from the realm of caring; it’s more to say that I become hyper-aware of the phenomenon. It’s deliberate, I assume – for when Lockstep
arrives, it does so as though it’s found itself in a quiet room with only the sound of a grandfather clock’s ticking to guide it into fruition. The record doesn’t begin with Begin
and it doesn’t end with End
, which seems to immediately illustrate a reshuffling of events, and that time
in this world – a jutted, fractured line here as opposed to a straight one – runs against the grain of the time in ours.
should be the conclusion, the final episode, for a number of reasons, but it resolutely is not. Not least for its title, implying denouement and closure, but for its length (it closes in on ten minutes) and its atmosphere. It’s neo-classical music for the twilight zone – brooding and ominous, with buzzsaw growls standing off against delicate violin drones, and for what? The clamour marks no endpoint, instead leading us out into a morning drizzle. Freed from underneath Descent's
hulking debris, Vale
is a new beginning, taking place in the very middle of proceedings.
But there are
constants, despite different backdrops, despite different timezones. The cello and the double-bass patiently and calmly control the soundscapes. The former's drone throughout Infestation
is like a door creaking slowly ajar, revealing a cracked and decaying place, overran by flies swarming the open wounds of dead bodies; starved for life, not for irony. But then Copra
are somehow the liveliest pieces on the record, punctuated by the percussive plucking of the double bass, as strings tangle themselves up in a thicket of noise. And jarring though the transition may be, it works, because in lieu of a singular theme, there's that singular anchor -- the instrumental palette of oaks and blues, painting this record like it's a symphony performed in a library.
Though that’s all I have on this album. I could reinstate that there are moments of menace lodged inside moments of earnestness, or that certain images seem to burn themselves into my retinae as I listen, but the truth is that The Night Is Dark, The Night Is Silent, The Night Is Bright, The Night Is Loud
is as disorienting as it is stunning. Nothing here sounds incongruent, but as a whole, it feels so. In its last (or maybe first?) breaths, it feels like it’s leading into something, with a looped piano melody that rises and rises up into a cliffhanger. The sequence is one of those rare things that make more sense on its own than it does in the context of the album, but it’s not at a loss for it. It’s strangely poignant, implying that this is an album for any hour of the day -- as it discards all of them. With this little record, the night feels right
. It’s just past twelve now, but here, in my room, where the shutters are drawn and the only light is the harsh glow of this screen, I am wide awake.