Memories are tough to things to share. These intrinsic things that live within themselves with their own sense of detail and place. How many times have we outlined a dream, or a moment’s event, or a scene, but the description we gave somehow failed to portray the precise depth of texture or feel? It’s inevitable, almost inescapable, that slight degradation of exactness and clarity, the stumble at first Chinese Whisper.
Even unshared they’re subject to change. And maybe there’s romance to that too; to the evolving nature of colours and shades that surround a key theme or main detail. Maybe that’s where this album’s positioned, in those unpinned-down traces of tinges and tints, in the shifts of minutia and meaning.
There’s certainly beauty to Paul K’s creation, to the network of soft glowing ambient works that reconstruct moments in snapshots. There’s beauty, romance, and flashes of joy, but it’s sadness that’s most keenly felt. As if Sadness is someone who watches and stalks, who warmly invites you back into their presence. There’s a calm reassurance to know that it’s there, like a guide, like a guaranteed ending.
Through these beautifully crafted and brief recollections of family, of love, of connections made and unmade, we hear cellos, pianos, electronic soundscapes, and samples that play out like stolen parts of private lives. Laughter and voices drift through the tracks, along with soft sliding clicks of camera lends shutters, church bells and modems, radio static, and threads of old songs that resurface. But these are just hints, mere suggestions. They shine through the crystal clear movements that span from the ominous and watery ‘Memory Four’, with its picturesque sorrow and swell, to the light buzz guitar and synth shoegaze optimism that drifts through the haze of ‘A Blurring’ .
For the most part, these movements could live on their own, they don’t need their surroundings for context. And given the vast expanse of the album, 20 tracks and an hour consumed whole, that’s as impressive as it might be daunting. Each piece has a structure, a start and an end, a focus, a melody’s mood. ‘A Recollection’ bleeds with a vocal that twists like a Theremin way in the distance, before harsh-lit pianos fold into the centre and give way to echo and wash. ‘Reconstruction Three’ sets an imposing weave between feedback, soft keys and discordance. ‘Reconstruction One’ opens up like a warning on scraped cello strings, before widening out to lush lifts and falls, and collapsing back in on itself.
Yet there are parts that I do shy away from; where spoken word poetry and sweetly voiced passages distract from the wide open space. Am I annoyed that the chance to add my own weight to the music has been replaced by pristine intonations? Or is it the interruption of flow? Maybe either or both, and maybe it doesn’t matter, as the interpretations of this set of memories will be distinctly unique to each listener.
And we’re back to where this album rests, in the shifting of meanings and memories and feelings that run through the heart of each soundscape. Let it serve as a platform for free form and thought, while enjoyment creeps in without warning.
‘Reconstructed Memories’ is out Nov 29th, to stream or buy direct from artist. And as soon as it’s out, highlights from this and other Rats on the Run featured artists can be found here on ROTR Radio.