Withering of Light – Reliquary

Posted: 3 January 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , ,

26th December 2020 – Lake Label

Christopher Nosnibor

There was a time when the phrase ‘concept album’ was something of a joke, a term indicative of some self-absorbed, self-important muso cack, all too often of a prog rock persuasion, with connotations of the pompous and grandiose, not to mention the overlong and immensely indulgent. Times have changed, things have moved on, and it’s no longer deemed pretentious to talk about art, at least in many circles, when it comes to the making of music. Outside the mainstream, at least, the movement against intellectualism and the war against intelligence has slowed.

It stands to reason that there would be a concept behind a sprawling forty-three-minute exploration of moody murkiness that is the latest (burnt) offering from Todd Janeczek via his dark ambient vehicle, the evocatively-named Withering of Light. As Janeczek explains, “The concept behind this album became how each of the words that are the titles took me out of the mundane everyday and put my mind in somewhat of a different state… For instance, ‘Reliquary’ is a vessel that contains a sacred or holy relic of some kind. We as humans fetishize objects, moments, memories. Even your mind can become a reliquary harboring the sacred, profane and otherwise. Each of these words I found carried some kind of weight, a spectral resonance (hence that title) and the sounds here are the aural embodiment of these.”

The dark ambient medium has always operated within the realm of the evocative, and while the pieces are born out of the artist’s internal thought processes and reflections, most of how one responds to such works is dictated by one’s own mindset, headstate, and experience. The question is therefore less ‘what is this album saying?’ than ‘what does this album say to me?’

I’ve been stuck at home for a long time with only my immediate family – wife, nine-year-old child, demented housecat – and a lot of music for company. As such, I’m not particularly attenuated to the nuances of the meaning of the song titles, and am more situated to feel the physicality of the rumbles and tensions of the dark undercurrents that course through the six compositions what comprise Reliquary. For the most part, it ushers a sense of discomfort and a sepulchral gloom that corresponds with my innate desire to hibernate. The atmosphere is dark and heavy and it hangs, lingering in the thick air. And yet… what does it say? Your back bows, and you want to move away. You want peace. But just as this has no words, you have no words.

‘Hive’ sees the arrival of percussion in the form of slow crashing cymbals and as such stands out from the thick sonic fog of the rest of the album. Apart from this, nothing happens, there is no punctuation and no other shift that adds to the appeal or otherwise draws the listener in.

‘Reliquary’ offers little more than dank darkness and dripping, a condensation of gloom that clings to every surface in the mind. It offers little enticement beyond the opportunity to sit in darkness and stare at the wall. And sometimes, that’s the soundtrack we need and the wall is ok with me.

AA

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