Release Date: Jul 3, 2012
Record label: Spectrum Spools
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Motion Sickness of Time TravelMotion Sickness of Time Travel[Spectrum Spools; 2012]By Colin Joyce; September 26, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGFour years, seventeen releases. Such is the life of an ambient musician. You know the ones who release improvised live sets on cassette, who experiment for hours and upload the results directly to Bandcamp, who finally spend months on an album only to have it function as background noise to the vast majority of its listeners.
Though it's often gentle and reflective, there's a forcefulness to the drone-based music made by Rachel Evans, both as Motion Sickness of Time Travel and in Quiet Evenings, her duo with husband Grant. I'm not sure whether to call it drive or vision or presence, but something makes even her calmest moments propel forward and grab attention. She's kept that focus through many LPs, cassettes, CD-R's, and split releases, carving a path that's open to all sounds yet has a clear direction.
The notion of a private art is something of a paradox. As British author Lascelles Abercrombie insists in Towards A Theory of Art (1922): “There is no such thing as a private work of art: all art is public. ” Abercrombie’s logic here is irrefutable; if an artist never intends his work to be experienced by the public, “why should he be at such pains to perfect an intelligible outward expression?” And yet one easily finds many examples of work intentionally hidden from the public, and in some extreme cases, hidden even from friends and family: Cellini’s Crucifix, most of Emily Dickinson’s poems, Henry Darger’s life work.
Rachel Evans, aka Motion Sickness of Time Travel, creates the kind of interminable ambient electronic music that I usually cannot deal with at all. The four tracks on this two-disc set each top the 20-minute mark, and at first listen it seemed like that was also going to be the case here. The soundscapes do indeed shift at a glacial pace, and they often get bogged down into the kind of washes of synth sounds that you could find in any bad late ‘70s/early ‘80s sci-fi movie that needed music from “The Future!” Yes, Evans sometimes seems to be making the exact music that people in 1982 predicted that people in 2012 would be making.
Rachel Evans' previous release, the hugely well-received Seeping Through the Veil of Unconscious tape and LP, can in retrospect be seen as the culmination - and possible high water-mark - of a strain of hypnagogic pop involving ghostly (usually female) vocals intoned dreamily over muted guitar and piano melodies, the whole thing blanketed by layers of vinyl crackles and tape hiss. It's a formula that has delivered stunning results over the years, from Grouper to Inca Ore, but perhaps Evans realised that it was also one that could quickly become limited, a realisation that, on this eponymous album, sees her subtly change her approach to sonic mystery by embracing the synthesizer. No surprise then that Motion Sickness of Time Travel appears on Emerald John Elliott's Spectrum Spools imprint.