Eric Angelo Bessel – Visitation (Lore City Music, 2023)

Something that I find drives me and helps me choose new foreign places to visit is knowing someone who has lived there, I like having that human element that in some way contextualises a location in my mind. Recently I found myself in Bratislava for a few days: at least part of the reason I ended up there is because I know someone who is Slovakian and had told me about some of her time in the capital. These things set seeds in my mind, desires to see and feel places known by others as a way of better understanding them and where they’re from.

Because there’s always this strangeness in travelling, in being in places where life seems to exist in many if not all of the same ways it does at home but in a form unfamiliar to us. Different languages, different customs, different foods, smells, architecture, weather, moods: it’s all human, but so alien. Having that personal connection seems, to me, to help bridge that divide somewhat and bring a sense of reality to somewhere new, humanising the space.

Eric’s Visitation reminds me of how travel makes me feel: an outsider and transient, just trying to be and to understand, not to fit in exactly but move with the flow of a place. Some momentary flux as my here-ness becomes there-ness, and returning changed from the encounter.

Drawn from woozy electronics the record slowly drifts from eerie noir evocations in the haunted synthetics of “Secret Lake”, to languid drones in “It’s So Far Away” and the voided and chasmic “Highest Invoking”. The twinkling “Less Red” refracts on spectral arpeggiations cycling as stars turn under foreign skies, the same as they always have, just this time to be seen and known, briefly, by our own eyes.

Elsewhere, ineffable standout “Hoax” thrums with an untouchable lightness at a distance, filled with transportive elevation in its wobbling synths and winnowed chords watching a soul inflate in the face of newness and cultural growth. Moments like these make closing “Kindly Rewind” all the more painful when the moment is shattered and the reversing outbound travel arrives, a sense of foreboding and regret and loss all wrapped up in a confusing and saddening retracing.

It’s not often that I struggle to confine the feelings that a record draws up, but Visitation is different. At once both so intimately familiar and unsurprising in its presentation, and yet simultaneously so off-kilter, so peculiarly dissimilar  and good but also not all at the same time. It weaves and moves, evolving all the time as emotions shift under our feet as they only ever can from stepping off a plane. This is a singularly evocative record, as difficult to pigeonhole as our feelings for a new city and all the better for it.