anthéne – permanence (Cathedral Transmissions, 2016)


Nothing is permanent, we all know this. We learn of entropy and erosion and death and we know that nothing lasts forever, not us, not anybody. But despite our unequivocal knowledge of transience we always choose to forget, we willingly ignore these painful facts of life while the going is good only to be endlessly reminded when they inevitably fall apart: Permanence is part of that cyclic story of necessary ignorance made sound.

Grey and uncertain it feels often, all of its corners saturated by clouds of sound that manage to both engulf the listener and yet also keep them safely distant from the feelings it exudes. “flux” oozes in haunting textural crossings, always in a state of obfuscated motion as the atmosphere moves unseen about us, laden with a heaviness that is invisible to sight but palpable in its tension, innate human perception detecting clues like a sixth sense. It reduces down further in “open air”, plumbing darker and deeper depths as tones knead over a sustained stream of background drone, fragments of voice entrenched in radio static burnt into the very air about us, lost souls whose physical presence has faded but displaced spirit remains ethereally.

Mortality continues to grow heavier as we continue to fall, “distractions” awash in increasingly spectral pulses of synth taken from its predecessor. A foundation of inflexible drone supports their almost angelic lightness and wistful shimmering, a nagging undertow of grounded melancholia that abates only at the track’s peak before returning with its disappointing but realistic ephemerality once more. Upset, it slides into the brevity of “disquiet” and its swatches of sonic swells, blurred at their edges with a static rim that echoes a certain lonely melancholia, blobs of memory that buzz at the edges of the conscious mind.

Album centerpiece “permanence” is finally allowed its moment and at 12 minutes long finds itself with surprisingly little to say, but it’s in its reductions that we begin to seek some sense of resolution. Its early minutes are pure bliss, a slow procession of tidal drones like a symphony of faintness, crisp and still and clearing, finding space for peace. Paradoxically these golden early minutes are not to last, the transformation back into distant and ambiguous drifts of guitar drone an unwelcome deviation away, untouchable in their distance and unplaceable in their emotion. But this is the different future that we must set upon, permanised, crystallised and, ultimately, met with acceptance as it glimmers away. We’ve won, says closer “small victories” as it emerges in loftily fresh drone and blipping synths as it passes through a very Marble Sky-esque crescendo of exultation, we made it through another thought-consuming night and this time for the better.

There’s nothing written in stone here, no place to turn where you feel certain in your understanding of the record, and yet it’s never nebulous or wholly undefined, always managing to toe the line of elusiveness whilst still exuding a meaningful sense of darkling feeling and melancholic story even in its limited span. Humble and beautiful.