Sadly, the Future is No Longer What it Was (Forced Exposure, 11.09)
For: LaMonte Young, William Baskinski, Machinefabriek
Byline: You need this in your life. Over 4 hours of some of the most elegiac drones and melancholy piano pieces you will ever hear.
Haunted tape machines. Floating over mist covered marshes. A burning house. A choir of ghosts. By sheer breadth and composition these are some of the most sadly-beautiful pieces of experimental/neo-classical/drone moments ever put to tape, complete masterpieces of expertly crafted soundscapes. I can't think of a more moving or gorgeous release this year. Coming to critics attentions in the last couple of years under the name The Caretaker, Kirby unleashes a watershed of compositional brilliance whose sheer megaton load is only eclipsed by the intense emotional effect that it has on the listener.
Sounding like they are coming from another room, Leyland Kirby's ethereal drones and waves of down-layered synths surface up through the pavement and match the noisy buzz of the city streets. These perfectly executed ambient pieces, crafted around turntables and synths are the perfect addendum to the more straight ahead classical pieces that bookend the beginning and end of the album. These compositions are some of the most elegiac and pastoral imaginings of classical expressionism, evocative piano compositions atop layers of effect laden ambience and lovingly crafted drones. You can tell that Kirby is functioning on a much different level of musical virtuosity than many of his drone peers.
Compared to 2009's best release Ben Frost's By The Throat (this could be a viable runner up) which paints a picture of apocalyptic dread, I would call Sadly, The Future... post-apocalyptic nostalgia. There are moments of terrifying swells of noise that serve as a trusting companion on your Road (a-hem) that let you know that danger always lurks near, but overpowering that is a powerful sense of loss and memory. A profound nostalgic look back at how far our society came, and everything we lost.
Taking the whole album in at one sitting is impossible, within a few days is a stretch, but finding an hour and a half to be alone, with a book or walking home from school at night, Sadly, The Future... feels more like a gift than an actual album. Well, a gift that you spent 30 $ on. Oh, well. Before being formally released in its physical format, small snippets of each songs kept the monetary considerations far in the back of my mind. If there is something missing from your Christmas (or late Dec. 10th birthday) make sure this is on it.