Release Date: Feb 14, 2012
Record label: History Always Favours The Winners
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Classical, Ambient, Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Film Score
James Kirby's discography as The Caretaker is essentially variations on a theme, but you never quite know what you're going to get out of him. It might be dusty haunted ballrooms on Stairway to the Stars, or the stuff of faded, eaten postcards like last year's An Empty Bliss Beyond This Year. Usually, however, it's going to be some kind of heavily-manipulated, old-world source material.
"Everything Is on the Point of Decline" opens Patience (After Sebald) and sets the tone for the rest of the album, its darkly regal melody and aged hiss evoking a descent into a midnight blizzard. Throughout the rest of the score, Kirby crafts a remarkably varied amount of nuanced moods with his samples and processing. From track to track, the hiss ranges from assaulting to soothing, sounding like blasting winds or water under ice; on "Approaching the Outer Limits of Our Solar System," it suggests a vast swath of space separating the listener from the melody.
Leyland Kirby has been making music as the Caretaker since 1999, but 2011 proved to be the project's breakthrough year. An Empty Bliss Beyond This World was the right record at the right time, a meditation on decay and loss that was beautiful on the surface but also had layers to peel. It reached listeners with only a passing interest in music from the experimental sphere, much in the manner of William Basinski's early-millennium series Disintegration Loops, because it brought together ideas about archives, appropriation, memory, and the accretion and disappearance of cultural objects.
The CaretakerPatience (After Sebald)[History Always Favors The Winners; 2012]By Will Ryan; February 14, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetLeyland Kirby's The Caretaker moniker was named after Jack Nicholson's character in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and takes its atmospheric cues from the haunted ballroom at that film's center. It's a theme that has remained with the project since its inception with 1999's Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom and 2001's masterful A Stairway to the Stars. It makes sense that The Caretaker's handful of releases have remained so consistent.
Leyland Kirby's most recent effort, much like, but unique from, those released previously, exists as a faded daguerreotype of passing time and time passed. Commissioned as the score for Grant Gee's most recent film, Patience (After Sebald), it's an amorphous miasma of echoing antiquity, evoking a time prior to the advent of colour film as a crackling grey scale roll. This record collects the works of Austrian composer Franz Schubert and morphs them into a gloomy meditation on the sure, comforting absurdity of existence.