[Author's Note: Music journos are encouraged, against their will, against their craft to turn around copy in order to be first. We must do it though. Our relevance is at stake every passing minute we neglect to speak on the latest album. But first listens betray us. First months betray us. We cannot always predict how we'll feel a year from now about a record we loved out of whatever cirumstances surrounded us and that record upon initial contact. Resin is the hardened compound that lingers, be it the black stuff in your weed pipe, nail polish or the toxic liquid stuck to plants. It's a word I've often applied to the curiosities that lock in my subconscious and never manifest within the constraints of timeliness imposed. But I go back to certain records because I haven't quite found that spark. Silent Land Time Machine's 2012 EP had that resin to it. I kept telling the artist I'd be reviewing his record, but with each listen I was stuck. Last week I wrote enough to feel satisfied. I hope to return the Resin column to a lively state on IMPOSE, through my words that never made deadline and any who feel compelled to resolve unfinished business.]
The album title, cut down to its most basic function, summarizes the record (Hootenanny – a record of drunken basement recordings) or shares relation to the most compelling track written in the sessions leading to its completion (Let It Be)*. Its function encourages musicians to be direct (13 Songs, Funhouse), brevity above all since it will be repeated by fans and critics who are programmed to abbreviate (OB4CL or Cuban Linx…, Dark Side…). It’s rare an artist chooses a bold title beyond two or three sweet words. Chumbawumba – god bless’em – hold the record at 865 pointless characters or 158 words, beating out Fiona Apple’s equally vain 90 word title based on a reactionary poem to a SPIN article, while Marnie Stern borrowed the enlightened words of Alan Watts for her This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That record. A lot was said and unsaid in these eccentric titles, but Silent Land Time Machine’s EP is a rare album in which the lengthy title honestly lends complexity to the music within.
In discussing the I am no longer alone with myself and can only artificially recall the scary and beautiful feeling of solitude EP through correspondence with the artist responsible, Silent Land Time Machine, he left a breadcrumb, “I was in a very weird place throughout making that record, mostly in my head, the human mind can be the most frightening place.” Align SLTM’s statement next to the lifted Carl Jung quote, an excerpt from Jung’s diary, for the EP title and let the dark complexities take flight like a startled murder of crows.
The Jung quote in its state on the record is incomplete. It’s a point of interest I never brought up in our exchanges, but wish I had. The full entry is “I am no longer alone with myself and can only artificially recall the scary and beautiful feeling of solitude. This is the shadow side of the fortune of love.” At the time it was written Jung asked for Emma Ruschenbach’s hand in marriage. Without the complementing sentence the interpretation of SLTM’s EP is wider. It’s not important why he’s no longer alone, what his status of company is, but that the feelings are artificial. Were this not a sound collage record it could easily be mistaken as an emo release, given the editorial decision in the title.As well meaning as Marnie Stern or even Chumbawumba might have been, SLTM is interacting with his source on an honest and curious level. Jung has given him direction, where others seem to find that perfect title well after the record is done.
SLTM’s collage in sound, his romantic gestures of orchestration engaging the modernity of push-button theorists, are presented without simplifying its compositions to love. Jung was speaking of that frightening bond for life, but by leaving out the sentence disclosing the lost solitude, SLTM is accessing the tiers of loneliness. Album closer “dealing w/ doubt” has the mounting tension of Clint Mansell’s pieces from The Fountain, but which is the preferred reading of SLTM’s peaking build – the anxiety of a big, big love (those doubts of “will she say yes?”, “is she the one until death do us part?”) or general anxiety from the overwhelming falsities of life experienced?
I can’t know, shouldn’t know why SLTM cut the Jung quote short. It’s pulling the curtain on Oz. There are hints of SLTM, the man in I am no longer… Opener, “even floating islands fall”, his coos drift in and out to the bleeping switches of radio dials. It’s an invitation song, full of splendor and playfulness. The EP can take us to the more painful regions, take us to the frightening places because of “even floating islands…”. “Kissa” is the sound of forcing solitude, guitars echo atop samples under the same filters, everything determined to push towards a perception of isolation. The wall of wails sounds strained alone, but a simple stomp percussion reveals a catchy post-rock framework hidden in the sonance.
My minor gripe is that I am no longer… feels taken out of context. Silent Land Time Machine widened the possibility of interpretation. Does that make the record more accessible? Yes. Is it an excuse to hide within the compositions though? I am no longer… has its moments of terror, but none that go beyond surface terror, which is commonly known as anxiety. If the EP is a badge to SLTM’s inner thoughts, I did not receive the VIP badge with full access. That said, the VIP contains images I can’t unsee. The access offered on the EP does not short change the listener. I am no longer… despite its anxiety towards a solitude lost, maintains the wonder of bliss. As tried and beaten as Silent Land Time Machine might have felt making the EP, he couldn’t help giving us a few vignettes of joy.
Whether the EP is about translating the feelings that come with accepting love into your life or the general turmoil ping-ponging through one’s skull, I leave up to you. Some days I know what Jung is going through, other days I hear an alternate take from Silent Land Time Machine. Both suit me fine.
*It was purely coincidental that it appears I selected two The Replacements titles, when the second is meant to be read as a Beatles reference.
Stream and purchase Silent Land Time Machine's I am no longer alone… EP on vinyl and digital here.