Valentine’s Day every year naturally incites the production of inevitably romantic, often sanguine, creations and Coppola is another to fall into its annual trappings; across fourteen pieces in Beloved he spins light drones and tape loops all lost in a mist of reverb after posing a simple question in the liner: “Do you think of me as often as I think of you?”.
The 50 minutes of the record’s coverage seem to span not just hours but also miles, many of the tracks progressing with such minimalism as to transcend their runtime and smear our perception of its movement, whilst the record itself feels lengthy as a whole. Slowly moving through subtle emotional variations that build up and break down piece-by-piece, the highway of feelings ticks off mile after mile of smeared asphalt, slowly rising and falling, gracefully bending around obstacles and upsets as we gaze listlessly out through the glass and cast our hypnotised mind elsewhere.
In its earliest moments it feels woozy and distant, emotionally unavailable in its weirdly disconnected processings; “I” unfolds smoothly and gracefully, if bleary and rather distant, welcoming us into its faded idiosyncrasies. Its accompanying pieces form the foundational basis for much of the record; “II” feels every bit as old as its ancient tape surface and fills its space with a rich melancholy appropriate to these old and faded lovings, fuzzing at the edges like a well-worn state of oft-revived sadness, a sensation revived later in the darker croonings of unsettled “X”. Meanwhile, “III” finds some small pleasures lost in the rich memory of themselves as soft loops blur into smooth indistinctness, whilst “IV” crafts a Summer twilight visage off its back as synth strokes linger in the air and find their way through the sepia filters of the faded neurons which keep them.
Drone depths are plumbed elsewhere, with pieces like “V” and “XI” finding themselves awash in slow-motion reverie, thin and quaint and lost in lightweight, unobtrusive satisfactions with only the merest hint of unrest buried deep below their soft drones. Indeed it feels like we impinge on early Marble Sky territory in pieces like “VI” where hints of the original guitar begin to peek through its pulsations, complex yet subtle layers built up in luxuriously radiating passages that feel replete in the deepest possible sense, especially alongside “IX” and its hugely elongate drone swathes that are loathe to move for fear of upsetting the perfection of the moment, so content it is in its immobility. Or perhaps “XII” and its own waves of extrusive love that amps up to greater heights than any other passage here, beaming proudly in warm, suffusing onlaps.
There are a few moments in which it begins to feel a little like it’s outstaying its welcome if one is paying attention; there are only so many times and ways the same insistent satisfactions can be wrought afterall. “VIII” seems a little redundant in its unremarkable wooziness, as perhaps does the ethereal obfuscations of “XIII”, but aside from a few weaker moments the atmosphere certainly does induce a timelessly nostalgic sense of romance that’s lullingly reassuring in its quiet loops. How deep and long-running must Coppola’s cares have been to craft such music.