Deconstructing Music: The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End Of Time
Everywhere At The End Of Time - Stages 1-6
Is this a music review? Sort of.
Leyland James Kirby is a Brit who has been deconstructing music for nearly 30 years under different names. “The Caretaker” name was inspired by Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining and some of this music might have been played in the ballroom of that old hotel.
Everywhere At The End Of Time is indeed a six-album set of ballroom music from pre-WW2.
Oh, now I know you're getting excited. But wait!
Everywhere At The End Of Time seeks to express the decline of memory and cognitive function that dementia brings. Our protagonist starts out with most of his faculties intact but the hiss and crackle represents how memory and thinking are starting to be affected. As he slowly declines the music becomes a little farther away, a little more broken up, a little more covered in static.
Is he aware this is happening? The sound sometimes reflects his denial, his belief that it's only been a bad spell, that things will be ok. Then we resume the downward spiral. And the band plays on.
The decline is slow, sometimes imperceptible but inexorable, maybe more painful for people around our Caretaker than it is for him. The music is still there but now it sounds like it's blown on the wind.
Soon awareness is replaced by mere existence. Our Caretaker can hear things around him but they make no sense, just noise and fragments. His memories are just as damaged. The band still plays but only sometimes is it music. The fragments loop and recede, meaningless scraps that may or may not belong together, not unpleasant but just filling time.
Finally we reach the end, neither a crescendo nor a whimper...
There you go, six and a half hours, available on download, cd and vinyl. It might be a touch ironic to get this set in the best possible fidelity to reproduce the hiss, crackle and distortions of the original Victrola. I settle for the flac version.
A few years ago, I would have dismissed this out of hand. Now I have seen dementia take someone close to me, and have friends who have had the same experience. This thoughtfully captures what might be happening from their point of view. It is a sad, terrifying, beautiful work of art.
VP Note: I had the opportunity to meet “Vanth” when I answered his ad for records he had for sale. His collection was pretty amazing and we both happened to own the same speakers, the rare ESS, AMT 1Bs. I’ve been back to his place a couple of times and now the visit is always at least as good as the vinyl (which is also, very, very good)!