Review Summary: A Sigh At the Sky
Hollow Body was a chapter constantly revisited. No listener, no stranger, no random YouTube commenter could possibly know the specifics of Brianna Hunt’s trauma, and rightfully so. It was only a few songs and it stretched on forever. Whoever the muse was that inspired these songs (or, say what you see: they were obituaries, probably, languishing alongside plaintive acoustics), I’m sure they can be found in the gutter – battered and bruised, sporting a broken nose to accompany all the souls, hearts, and dreams that suffered the same fate. Last year I said that Hunt spent the EP “tip-toeing around an empty house”. If There Is A Presence Here
proves anything, it’s that she still hasn’t left.
The beginning is the end is the beginning is the end is the…
She remains stalked by the past. Her and her trauma are trapped in a cycle together, as it so often goes. In Nonbeing
, Presence… arrives already defeated, and just like everything that follows, the vocals here are lo-fi, pushed back into the depths of the mix to signify how her fractured psyche washes out her perception of the outside world. It’s cliché, but: the grief and the ennui are everywhere on this album -- the weight of isolation forces Hunt to exist in solitary confinement while life wonders about, unaware, just outside the door. The cycle, as it were, starts with the trauma, which leads into depression, which feeds into our victim’s fear of said trauma. The beginning is the end is the beginning is the end is the…
Jesus, I’m being presumptuous and I’m being an asshole. I can explain: the album is dark, it has song titles like The Nothing
or This Place is Haunted
and lines like "Father, am I just a whore"". A host of spectres drift in quiet corners and parts of the record feel like an exorcism we accidentally stumbled in on. I’d feel guilty listening to it if it didn’t sound like Hunt absolutely, unequivocally needed a stranger to confide in. As a musician, she knows better than anyone that a burden shared is a burden halved, and in Danielle
, she’s desperate to lift the weight, intoning in a fragile murmur: Mother I’d like to think, when I weep, you weep
”. It gives her momentum; listen to it, the guitars snowball and the ambience wails like spirits rustled out of dormancy. It grows difficult to discern where the instrumentation ends and the atmosphere starts. The beginning is the end is the beginning is the end is the…
The voyeurism intensifies as one realises this cycle isn’t budging, or wavering, or showing any such sign of strain under the weight of its growing audience. Brianna, however, seems to have found an opening -- a barely perceptible gap in the panelling where the light (tired metaphor, I know, but this record beckons that dichotomy: light and dark, life and death) coyly seeps in. Call it God, call it Courage, but Hunt finds herself at that midpoint where she understands the necessity for patience. ”I’m trying to be more honest”
, she sings in Dear Heart
, immediately after lashing out: ”Why did you refuse to answer me"”
because, she eventually understands, she was asking the wrong questions. No more lashing out. There Is A Presence Here
is the end of "God, will you take me away", and the beginning of "God, will you help me gather the strength to find my own way out". I hope He's a fan of ambient folk music.