joel shanahan: frozen clock hovering (ratskin)

it’s hard not to read too much into the scraps of text before you hit play:

alone / clock / floating / frozen / hovering / muzzle / nothing / sleeps / stabilizer / staring

it says, nothing is happening. it says, confined. it says, unattached.


it emerges, a sleepy post-something what the fuck was that. it’s a beat, of sorts, smothered. an engine, breach-birthed. it emerges, a static spirit. a gluey background of textures, defined by a lack of movement (in many senses). it emerges, failing, dislocated, veiled.

consider it a concept album of sorts. one maybe with no real sense of arc or story. and if there is linearity it don’t matter. these things are circles, forever. everything and nothing, always. it’s a mess, an open wound raw with history and present and future. elegies to things coming apart (inevitably) / coming together (hopefully).

moments are what this album is. pages torn from diaries, an impressionist biography, polaroid abstractions. lives, real and other. people, places, conversations, moods remembered. a pointillist assemblage of intimacy that’s gone, but now simultaneously channelled and trapped, crystal clearly skewed.

the tales go: hearts and bones were made to break. it’s pain as time machine. it’s trauma (re)cycled.

musically it walks a fine line between abstraction and detachment, circles the drain of ambient’s hazy mnemonics, the fleeting, futile rush of club, and fusion’s abstruseness. that refusal to commit to something both symptomatic and metaphoric. it seems to revel in its vaporousness while desperately trying to cling to something. a fog of drone, crumbling bass, melody bleeding out / through, dissipating into one long drowned sigh.

and if you lazily think soundtrack then fine. deep into nothing has similar tensions (and references) to oneohtrixes sadfie brothers scores. but while those films thrive on kinesis, this is often inertia.

(tumbling further down this rabbithole i can’t shake off chris marker’s la jetée while i listen but that’s likely a whole other conversation around my brains response to image and sound…)

and if it feels at times like a tangerine dream record rotting in the rain, it’s never more than fleeting. the sound of history crackling across dead wires. the telephone a syncopated flatline.

even if as an album it sounds at times like it’s dissolving, it’s really more like transmuting. there’s still gristle in there, bursts of muscle, and the more time i’m in its drift / wake, the paroxysms, the weary ache, the ambiguity, it croons to me, and i want to grab onto its not really here-ness, mould something from whatever emotional ectoplasm it’s oozing.

first impressions might say nothing’s happening. the reality? the reality is more the struggle to make things happen. the reality is transcending.


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