Jason Calhoun – introduction to an apology (Florabelle, 2021)

Lately I’ve been having these peculiar moments where I, for want of a better term, “flash back” to instances in my past, spurred on by some tenuous connection to things I’m doing at the time or things I’m thinking about. That’s probably an overstated way of saying “I have memories” but I’ll be in the middle of something and just have a remembrance of some event – school, university, childhood – that leaves me in a brief reverie before I move along.

I’m sure the semi-static existence here at the tail-end of lockdown has something to do with it, these retrospective flashes reaching back to more innocent times. There’s also something strangely comforting in the remembering, a simple pleasure in knowing the recall is still there, that memories of my past haven’t yet been completely lost to time.

If there’s a record that could articulate these synaptic snapshots, these cerebral postcards, the fleeting fragments dancing along the ganglia, it’s Calhoun’s ephemeral introduction to an apology. 

With half of the pieces here clocking in under two minutes much of the record passes in a pleasant blur of burbling synth tones and evaporitic electronica that vanishes quickly after it comes under perception. “speaking of platitudes” ambles in quaint and jovial little arpeggiations for little over a minute, only its coy, buzzing backfield providing a stable and purposeful momentum.

Similar quiet moments occur briefly in its precursor “you don’t get to see me as much as you’d like”, withdrawn in its clean and reductive synths, as well as sophomore beauty “hi jim” that trickles like a telephonic post-card. Delicate notes tumble, glitch tones bridging souls across waveforms and transceivers.

Outside of these glimpses we glean insight from the precious few tracks afforded a longer runtime. “blindsided by my own cowardice” uses the same established idiosyncratic electronic tones as its shorter fellows, but once its pathways start being considered and scrutinised longer than its contemporaries it suddenly transforms. The gentle musicality that blossoms is broadsided by a growing mass of insidious static, subducting the traces of pleasantry under a battery of chaotic and flustered radio fragments. Unavoidable reminders of current affairs that snap one back to reality, or startling revelations drummed up from forgotten events previously hidden by ignorance of the present.

The humming loop drones of late elongate “daytrip” find the record at its most indistinct, as though we are experiencing some broader moment condensed into a single holistic experience, feelings and motions compressed into a smear sound, a blur of detail recalled behind closed eyes.

And then there’s closer “not ready to leave”. Tired, hesitant, reluctant. We can hear that night has already set in through the gentle chirrups and rustling field recordings, serenading the softly unwinding chords that drip in resignation, slowing to a crawl as the inevitable end of these fine moments draws in. That placid continuum of nature overtakes and replaces, or rather perhaps allows us to hang our human memories off its sonic stasis, where heard in reverse our fond recollections bubble back to the surface prompted by its aural anchorage.

Retrospective flits don’t necessarily mean anything inherently, but the past – our past – is emplaced within personal contexts both current and historical. To recall nights out with friends, days on the beach, mischievous schoolground shenanigans, are to be backdropped against current circumstance and the increasing distance from carefree youth. But that doesn’t mean that the fun has to be left in the past, or that I can’t reminisce whilst brushing my teeth.