Andrew Chalk, Timo Van Luijk: all instruments, with contributions by Jean-Noël Rebilly (clarinet) and Tom James Scott (piano)
A pre-planned seaside trip is rubbed out due to ambivalent weather. A potentially reposeful/enlivening Sunday turns into one of those pessimistic meanderings along the elapsing hours. The sun shines after all, but we’re distant from the coast; the wind makes the leaves rustle; each cat on the outside has found a spot to sleep, unmindful about what’s happening to their less agile two-legged friend. No humans in the surroundings, no cars. The mind starts roaming, touching on issues that inevitably connote a sensation of regret.
The soundtrack to all of this has been Traces Ephémères. Its description on the label’s website comprises unmeasurable words, strictly related to the above portrayed feelings. One can’t really put a finger on this music; then again, we’re accustomed to this impossibleness when Chalk and Van Luijk are involved. There’s such a level of indistinct recollection in these sounds, detailing what happens would resemble an unsought wake-up call.
I started tasting the LP at appreciable volume, twice; given my hate for any existing vinyl noise, it’s relieving that this edition does not present decisive disturbances. The inaugural perception is that of fragile-sounding shifts between different aspects of the duo’s abstract communicativeness. Tracks that are partially formed are nevertheless verging on the ethereal, the instruments dissolving inside bittersweet environments. Elementary melodies are rendered utterly absorbing by antithetical textural underlinings; adjoining chords are conceived to mildly stretch the tune’s kernel. The sketched modification of acoustic, electric and electronic timbres is performed with a (wonderful) constitutional naivety; sometimes, three or four lines seem to walk alternate routes, an unconscious counterpoint producing a surrealistic uniformity. Guitars (…also koto?), flutes, keyboards and percussion are used, among other sources, for wide-eyed dreams. Pale ghosts of Roedelius and Pink Floyd appear at certain junctures; elsewhere, a cloudless, cliché-free improvisation emerges from nowhere (check a brief subdivision called “Itaque” to see what I mean). And there’s this great piece, “Le Départ Soudain”, that gathers shades of Eno with chordal flavors similar to “Sun King” (that’s right, Abbey Road).
Following this attempt to memorize a state of things, a series of eight or nine spins at lower intensiveness began, the situation remaining identical to this very instant. A wavering blur, a continual morphing of brighter tones and fading contours that does not accept subatomic investigations. The head has stopped its journey through the remote corners of quiescent surrender, the mystery around this splendid release not yet explicated. Let it live with you by recording it on a CD to be set in infinite repeat mode; try and get it camouflaged amidst the variable moods of an unremarkable day to improve what could soon become unbearable.
Fortunately, uncontaminated artistry still exists.