The Caretaker

Persistent Repetition Of Phrases

History Always Favours The Winners HAFTW003CD
  • CD: Digipak Re-Press 2018
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Although this album invites aesthetic comparisons to works by the likes of Philip Jeck, William Basinski and Janek Schaefer - draped as it is in an obfuscating, soupy crackle - there's a very specific conceptual agenda at work here. Part of Persistent Repetition Of Phrases' success comes from the attention it pays to the function of 'the loop', not only as a narrative ordering system in modern music, but as a means by which the brain itself recalls and interprets information; it's as old as recorded sound itself, but in this context the repetition of small shards of auditory information becomes an elegy to fading memory and the worn-out synapses of old age. The track titles offer signposts through Kirby's labyrinth of faulty remembrances, pointing their way towards the peculiarities dictating the manner by which the mind stores and attempts to recover information: 'Lacunar Amnesia' references a condition that leaves a specific event absent from the sufferer's memory, and Kirby's music sounds suitably stuck on a prelude to something that never happens. Bathed in gusts of crackle, the piece gets stuck on what might be a start of something, but we never get to hear what. Many of the pieces refer to different ways the memory might find itself caught in a holding pattern: 'Von Restorff Effect', 'Rosy Retrospection' and the title track itself are all suggestive of reliving a single event or point in time - here, both music and memory are united by the notion of 'glitch', whereby a fault or fissure causes the replaying of the same pocket of data over and over again, but what distinguishes Kirby from so many other musicians operating within the field of loops and broken recordings is the unnerving, ghostly sentimentality that courses through this process. 'Long Term (remote)' is particularly explicit in its reaching back through the first half of the 20th century, exhuming snatches of music hall romance, now warped into a sinister new form by the erosions of time. It's like watching John Carpenter's The Fog only to find that instead of vengeful phantoms emerging from the mist, it's The Glenn Miller Band. Which is infinitely more disturbing. More eerie still is the detachment from authorship endemic to this sound - at no point do you really sense the presence of a composer's hand; this album just... is. A remarkable thing that only seems to have improved with age (which is either highly appropriate or highly inappropriate, I can't quite decide which), Persistent Repetition Of Phrases is an even better fit on vinyl, a medium which itself wears and fades just as the memory does.

The Caretaker: Persistent Repetition Of Phrases

Lacunar Amnesia The Caretaker 3' 29''
Persistent Repetition Of Phrases The Caretaker 6' 18''
Rosy Retrospection The Caretaker 5' 09''
Long Term (Remote) The Caretaker 4' 19''
Poor Enunciation The Caretaker 5' 05''
Past Life Regression The Caretaker 4' 35''
False Memory Syndrome The Caretaker 3' 55''
Von Restorff Effect The Caretaker 5' 34''
Unmasking Alzhiemer's The Caretaker 5' 25''

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