When the press release refers to False Readings On as “an hour-long meditation on self-doubt, anxiety, and separation from one’s self”, my experience clicks into place. The synths warble like an aged VHS tape, glowing with over-saturated hues of major key, reminiscent of home movies in their surreal vibrancy and softened edges. If personal identity is founded on past experience, what happens when the image of this past experience becomes warped by the forces of nostalgia or persistent haunt? There’s no anchorage of certainty within any of these pieces. Pianos wade through the drone in hesitant melodic phrases, stumbling over notes as though lost in the swirl of genuine memory and idyllic/wretched fantasy. Strange noises slide across the stereo frame like elevators made of clay (“Regenerative Being”) or two-way radios dropped in water (“False Readings On”); the fantastical embellishments of a mind trying to find a reality to call home, throwing all manner of hallucinatory imagery into the air to see what coheres with the existing scenery.
So when the press release refers to False Readings On as possessing “emotional lucidity”, it doesn’t compute. Even after countless listens, there’s no element of this record that resonates with absolute clarity. Every chord is a collision, flooding me with deep sadness and soft jubilation simultaneously, or bearing false promises of imminent resolution. The voices – waves of choral phrase, distorted extracts of operatic solo – are masked by reverb or the muffle of time erosion, their lyrical meaning dropped during their attempted capture, morphed into surreal ripples of supernatural song (“Fugue State”) or plumes of cathedral air (“Movie Night Revisited”). Even if many of these melodies are beautiful in the most immediate sense, they’re forever made to swim through washes of harmonic conflict, intermittent radio broadcasts or gentle tides of white noise. As such, this doesn’t strike me as a record of emotional lucidity, but a chime on the inherent complexity of mood states; the admission that every memory and sensation can feasibly carry traces of both nourishing joy and irreparable hurt, leaving Eluvium to fight through a fog of reverberant ambiguity and transient understanding.