No matter how much time I spent listening to Ways Of Meaning before coming here and attempting to write about it, it always felt like it wasn’t enough.
If you recall, last time I used the visual artistry of director Wong Kar Wai to draw parallels between discerning nuances in the visual and musical realm, though admitting I’m more a student in the matter than an authority. If you’ll allow me to further that theme for a moment, I think I’ve graduated to the next chamber. My task to learn this lesson is to fill pails with water, then carry them back to a certain destination without letting them spill. Thus far, I’ve been arriving to a stern, disapproving glance at my empty pails and swiftly sent marching back until I’ve not only mastered the art of balance, but can extend it beyond myself to the fluid substance given temporary form and which I carry at arm’s length while I move with impetuous impatience.
To clarify things, the water is a metaphor for the thoughts I gather when I listen to Ways Of Meaning, and in the course of feeling rather confident in them, I turn on my computer, open up a blank page, only to think I don’t have nearly enough to say. That it clocks in at almost a third of the listening time as A Young Person’s Guide does little to negate the sense that there is something vast and intricate to explore, and that I have much more of it to do before I can consider writing about it.
It may appear as though I’m doing the release a disservice with diversionary tactics, or perhaps that I’m inadvertantly disregarding it by virtue of admitting my grasp feels fleeting. So I want to say that, like A Young Person’s Guide, it would have been easy to take this music at face value, but if I was ever prepared to do that I would have just strung together some nifty words. You know the ones: ambient, mourning, resonant, fluid…and if I started to run out maybe I’d reach for pretty, then a thesaurus – they’d all be relevant and true. But it’s much more honest for me to say that those are the words I was left with after I’d finished listening. They were the few drops left in my pails, the ones that looked like sad little dregs, because they’re not only somwhat superficial in their application here, they show little about what I thought – so here’s what you should know…
When you think about the kind of music that soundtracks the events in daily life, from the commonplace, everyday occurances to those that take us by surprise, the ones that leave us slightly winded and uncertain what’s going to happen next, it’s natural to make immediate connections to music that plays loud enough to get through the noise in your head.
Ways Of Meaning is like the music that was already there. It’s those natural layers of sound that hum underneath motion and thought, that drive it, and the music you hear when just for a moment you allow memory or imagination to steer your thoughts instead of the other way around and reacting to them. If provocation itself, the instigation as opposed to cause and effect, of sense memory had a sound, this is what I think it would sound like.
Each time I played this album, I had 40 minutes to simply listen to the music and think of ways to describe it, but that, perhaps unfortunately, doesn’t interest me as much as what I actually did. I spent much more of the time delving into other things – things that if I mentioned would probably look stark and unusual, because they’re mine alone and I remembered or imagined them in a context that (I insist) will only make sense to me. It isn’t the music that I have fleeting grasp on, it’s the confidence to share the secrets I found when listening to it.
Ways Of Meaning is available on the 3rd of May, on vinyl and digital download, through Desire Path Recordings.