This Music Could Be My Life #2

Same Town, New Story – January

As you can guess from the lateness of this column, January has been a rather chaotic month. The month has had a deluged of assignments, deadlines looming over me like the dark clouds that this wintry month is so defined by. So quickly can the enthusiasm of a new semester hit a brick wall, and sadly it has (apologies to my dear editor for taking so long to write this column). On a positive note, the last day of December, and first day of January, were the days I finally came out to the two close family members who remain in my life, and all told it went incredibly well. Preceding these stressful moments, I turned toward Indricothere’s Old Time, an album I received on Bandcamp for free after contacting project mastermind and metal producer extraordinaire Colin Marston via email. While I know him for his knotty, often dissonant and tumultuous metal projects such as Krallice and Red Amacord, Old Time is an ambient album, a meditational playground for his dabblings in synth.The release is incredibly absorbing – and happens to be 8 hours (!) long, perfect for a sleep cycle. Without it, I wonder if I could’ve slept soundly at all at the turn of the year.

This was only the first dabbling in ambient that I had in January, the genre’s restless moods interlocking with my own. While trying to revise, I happened to come across “The Day of Night” from the Silent Hill 2 OST on Youtube (that font of music recommendations), and have been hooked since, slowly burning through the seek bar of countless compilations. From there, it snowballed; old flames Daniel Lopatin and Tim Hecker returned to constant rotation on my record player, phone, and anywhere else – the house was awash with glitching, pulsing, collapsing sounds. GAS was another welcome discovery, his use of classical samples building into luscious woodland and eerie forests. Ambient music often evokes landscapes to me; the worldlessness, the way the music slowly changes, so gradual it’s almost seasonal.

Hecker’s music has dictated my life most – his second official album, Radio Amor, resonated deepest in my skull. I often made the scholarly anabasis to the peak of the Jimmy, gazing out at the slowly dimming sky and becoming absorbed in soundscapes (often in lieu of actually doing my work). I would become absorbed in the environment, lost in a moment of time distended by music. I used to scoff at works like The Disintegration Tapes, finding their stillness insulting as someone fixated on technique and energy. Radio Amor is not necessarily such an album – its maritime theme means that it does sway, move, and develop over time, each song with a distinct personality – but I doubt I could have enjoyed it as much when I was younger. I crave stillness at times now, and the Radio Amor presents a particularly enchanting kind. I’m Transmitting Tonight is utterly gorgeous, piano keys glitching into bliss that perfectly suited the abstract yet busy vista of the West End skyline; Trade Winds, White Heat, the valedictory track, settles into an almost soporific calm, replacing and surpassing the ASMR I used to turn to as a sleep aid.

Even my rock interests took on a deeply atmospheric bent. To escape the cold outside, I delved into FoalsTotal Life Forever often, invoking the hot and humid late-Spring memories with which it is so deeply intertwined in my mind. It’s an incredibly rare album; one that balances smartly technical guitarwork with a deep, aquatic atmosphere – and has plenty of heart between. As a bassist, I one day hope to write basslines as funk-laden and impressive as the ones that underpin Total Life Forever, which often reaches Interpol levels of acrobatic groove. Lyrics delve deep into intimacy, so it fits that my discovery of this record coincided with a passionate (but sadly brief) relationship.

There are plenty of fantastically summery tunes in here, enough to warm any Glasgow winter. “Miami” is laced with lackadaisical acoustics, “Blue Blood” builds into anthemic glory, and the title track shimmers with mathy guitar incursions that emphasise its danceable rhythm. But just like its subaqueous production, this is no shallow release – “Black Gold” explores benthic miseries, from the “top of the world” to the “bottom of the ocean”. It captures the way such things can often turn on their head, collapsing, our efforts subverted. Perhaps the most iconic line in the record lies here, as Yannis professes that

The future is not what it used to be

Struggling myself with opening up (believe me, it’s the hardest part of these columns), and often prone to isolate myself at times when I should surround myself with other people, the isolation captured in these depths never fails to resonate, either;

Drive through the forest and into the night

Away from the city, away from the light

Hollow heart

In “After Glow”, the band best elucidate the record’s themes; and it almost feels as if the lyrics were written as if aware of the events that I have so closely tied to this album, their impermanence.

Get up

Go find everyone you care for

They won’t be there to see you tomorrow

Fittingly, the person I most associated with this album is no longer in my life. Yet the song is not a miserable one, despite its heavy meditation on life’s shifting nature – a powerful beat, twinkling guitars, and twitching bass all culminate in a triumphant and propulsive jam, the band interlocking into a technical and vibrant movement as they often did on their slightly more mechanical debut, but doing so in a truly cathartic and passionate manner. That relationship may long be over, but that doesn’t render the memories of the time meaningless or solely painful. People leave, we leave people, and one day they will be gone – and that’s both what makes caring so terrifying, and yet so meaningful.

Coming out helped me realise this better; for too long I was scared of the reactions I would receive, holding those close to me at arm’s length, not having faith in them and fearing rejection. Now I realise my mistake, of course, and I wish I had come out earlier. But I can enjoy the time I have. It’s never too late to reach out.

Toyah Stoker

(This Music Could Be My Life is a monthly literature column by Toyah Stoker, exclusive to the Stay tuned for more installments!)


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