Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stage 3 Review

Is there such a thing as a concept going too far? There's a chance we find out in the spring of 2019 when Leyland Kirby's final opus as The Caretaker grinds to a deadly halt, after six deteriorating stages of a dementia-laden takeover. We're halfway through the project and, with Stage 3, it seems as if the musical element is the last thing on Kirby's mind. Whereas Stage 1 introduced the character in question, failing to differ much from his gleaming beacon An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, Stage 2 reinvigorated the Ambient project by extending the looping mechanisms and drawing from relatively new influences. The identity of Stage 3 however, brings with it a fair deal of controversy, as the decomposition of memory has begun with repetition taking over.

Not only are samples reused, in much the same way as their origin within Everywhere At The End Of Time, The Caretaker's characteristic titles also return. What's perhaps most interesting is their slight alterations, as if remembering the truth has become increasingly more difficult. Nearly every title is a reimagined version of past works, with 'Drifting Time Misplaced' ('Misplaced In Time' on Stage 2) and 'Aching Cavern Without Lucidity' ('Mental Caverns Without Sunshine' on An Empty Bliss) being just two examples. Paired with the music and you can see why The Caretaker decided upon this repurposed imagery. Many tracks, potentially all, use the noticeable samples that have commandeered his past works. Which, ironically, makes Stage 3 both the least and most impressive work thus far in terms of creativity. No new sounds are used, but the context in which they're interpreted has changed.

How I feel about this has yet to be decided. Of course, Everywhere At The End Of Time is meant to be appreciated as a start to finish process of mental rot (once it's completed), yet I worry for the ensuing stages if the third one already has this tremendous deal of repetition. Stage 5, let's say, would've been more apt, with Stage 6, if my expectations are accurate, descending into a total annihilation of memory turned arrant Ambient drone. Dementia, as far as I'm aware, doesn't benefit from relapse. It's a slow, cruel, painful descent. Continued repetition just won't work. Even as it stands now, Stage 3 may be the weakest effort thus far based purely on its musical merits. Conceptually, it's strong and steadfast, finding Kirby the artist uninhibited by risk. But Kirby the arranger, well, he's not really here. I can't help but feel as if Stage 3's nothing more than an elaborate remix album.


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