Joseph Quimby Jr: Court


Tombed Visions cassette and download

Court’s foggy, rain-drenched vistas follow an alternative path to that set out by the classic approach of ambient music. Its consciously synthetic mode is a shift away from that Eno-led, self-effacing insinuation into the warp and weft of everyday life, Quimby’s dense foliage instead closer to the cloud forests of New Age music. Like the utterances of those cosmic chancers, the dense layers of synth, piano and chimes work as a kind of liturgy for a modish spirituality, although, fortunately, Quimby swerves from New Age’s focus on beaming self-actualisation in favour of melancholy and nostalgia. Court’s compositions are a pilgrimage into the crepuscular labyrinths of memory, their naive melodies harking back to better times, when the future was laid out in front of you like presents on Christmas morning. These were days when everything was possible, even as Quimby’s falling synth chords remind you that those days are long gone, that those possibilities are just ghosts, images woven from air that dissolve even as you try to grasp them.

A follow-up to Quimby’s previous Tombed Visions release, Wren/Le Chat Est Parti, Court is deep rather than wide, condensing that previous double cassette’s outward sprawl into just five tracks. But its relative brevity belies the complex interactions that lock together beneath its surface, with an ability to hold various contradictions within itself a major draw for repeated listens. The lack of an explicitly rhythmic chassis at first suggests a typical ambient stasis, although, as soon becomes clear, each piece is actually pushed forward by layers of subtly propulsive moves, their pulsations and slow surges suggesting a living body’s own biological processes. And, while all of the sounds here are avowedly synthetic – those viscous, almost plastic synths in Proof, for example, or the glittering sonic bubbles in Heat – the overall feel is of something profoundly natural,  some kind of slow transition through phases of growth, exhaustion and renewal.  Court moves on a macro scale – tidal, orbital, geological – that works in tandem to its micro-level bodily pulsations and stands in a kind of implicit opposition to the regularised, always-on processes of modern day living. Not that this is some kind yearning for an unspecified past. Rather, Court embodies a return of a different kind, a retreat from the relentless glare of hypermodernity, opening up those spaces where it’s alright to switch off, to rest, to remember, to think, to sleep, to dream.



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