Listening to 17 Years… is like drifting through the fog on a wooden raft. The drapes of cicada noise and the clam of tropical humidity stunt all visibility, and I can only question the source of the mysterious debris that floats sporadically into view: animal carcasses, monastic robes, cooled meteorites, rotten ship panelling, chunks of breeze block. Even if they aren’t all offcuts from a single narrative, there is at least a common thematic allusion – the dead, the forgotten and the misplaced – that hangs amidst the dry beige dust and crunch of weathered celluloid. Anything that doesn’t resound in death (a shed exoskeleton of white noise, a gurgle of reversed tape like seawater sucking at an unseen harbour) is merely a degrading, archival depiction of life; a former prophecy dismantling itself in the wake of its very fulfilment, or tiny remnants of colour sapped by the predatory greyscale.
There are voices everywhere and they are useless, incommunicable. Sibilance dislodged from words, precursory inhales into dead dictaphone. By halfway through, my precedents of beauty and vibrancy have shifted to accommodate the wasteland of my new (and now permanent, perhaps?) surroundings. I hear a frozen dawn chorus in the screeches of “Ice Falls / Taking On Water”, and a stalactite choir dripping in rainbows upon the radio fragments of “Lowlands Hybrid”. As a sonic graveyard, silence would be too optimistic and clean, suggesting a cleansing in the pre-emption of rebirth; 17 Years… is a permanent hiss of stagnation, and even if the cross-fades and tape-cuts nudge the music into movement, it feels limp and accidental – a skeleton rolling in the tide, or an autumn leaf dragged upon the wind.