Aaron Martin – Touch Dissolves (IIKKI, 2018)

Your fingertips have such incredible capacity for feeling that you can perceive imperfections in a surface on the order of nanometers. Of all the senses, touch bridges the gap between ourselves and objects or others in a way that nothing else can, and this extreme sensitivity lended to physicality creates a powerful bond. It isn’t always enough to just see or hear, one much also touch for there to be fullness, completeness.

In Touch Dissolves, barriers are broken down through direct interaction; take “To Stems Unclasped The Petals Cling” for example. Ukulele strings peck carefully, like young fingers plucking petals round the course of some meadow flower’s head. There is a directness and straightforwardness here as touch translates sight into something tangible: the soft and downy stems; the smoothness of the petals; the slight resistance before yielding as we tug them out.

“Water Reads What Fingers Have Written” crafts something similar, if rather dreamier. Harmonica croons over soft cello swells like some forgotten pastoral lullaby, hands feeling the soft course of a cool stream wash over the skin, wetness tracing the cracks and folds and seams and crevices. It would be sensual if it wasn’t for the almost childlike wonderment and innocence it exudes, this simple pleasure taking our mind to an easier time of life or invoking some distant ancestral memory of refreshment in nature.

Bucolic harmony is also invoked in “The Space Above Overflowing”, the ukulele returning alongside softly humming vocals to deliciously easygoing effect. The pluckings feel as intimate as if it were our own fingers doing the job, the backfield slowly blossoming in overdriven guitar and cello smears as nature spills out ahead of us. Hands graze the tips of some farmland growth, the tickle of barley or wheat on the palm, whilst the eyes drink in the expanse before us, row upon row of softly waving grain.

And what the hands can’t reach makes us unsettled and introspective: “Guarded Eyes Make Curtains Blossom” retreats into distant crooning and off-kilter melancholia. The closing off of a feeling seems to create a shifting veil, textures overlapping in near disarray as though unable to quite make sense of their disparate connections. Though sometimes there is no collective need, as in “Falling From The Feel Of Sunlit Bodies”. Cello bows cast bold arcs, slow curving sustains drenched in Arcadian serenity as we drink in the Sun and it’s almost physical illuminating force as it casts its radiant light on the landscape below.

At the end of it all there is a vision of inner peace, of slow motion cerebral drama invoked through measured yet potent organ swells. In “A Hand That Reaches, A Branch That Sings”, early lachrymose strings are cast away in these sweeping, lush chords; frigid isolation melts in the softness and surprising strength of physicality, and for a brief and soaring moment we are elevated and content. For sometimes when we need to see most clearly we need to hold out our hands and be led through our fingertips.