On opening track “Whole Summer”, I hear his voice for a moment as he stoops under Siavash Amini’s downpour of electronic rain. He’s engulfed by an oncoming blizzard of sad static and is nowhere to be seen once the noise finally clears. I meet him again briefly at the start of “Halycon” – seemingly stood in the corridor of an apartment building, forlorn and sopping wet from the earlier storm – where the loud, muffled din of TVs and stereos can be heard spilling through the walls on either side. Again, he utters a few words and walks away. Physically, Matt Finney is barely here. Yet given that Amini’s pieces were all constructed as a musical expansion of these spoken verses, Finney’s imprint is actually everywhere. His withered memories are tucked like marbles in the palms of forlorn violins. A serrated blade of noise enacts the miserable, retrospective prophecy of his final verse, carving into the soundscape like a knife as Finney watches on, open-mouthed and dumb, unable to steer the past as it hurtles towards his present.
From what I can decipher from Finney’s spoken traces, he seems to be recounting a tipping point in his past. A moment in time when he still could have salvaged what he had. The final, fading traces of a domestic happiness – sharing a bed, sharing idle conversations about haircuts, cherishing the laughter of children – slip through his fingers without the intervention of his past self. It’s an ode to the burden of remembering, which allows regrets to settle upon the quiet and stillness of time spent alone; the mind labours over the unheeded signs of imminent collapse, trying to force a divergence in fortunes through sheer wilful retrospect. “I saw you standing there in the window. You had your back turned and I just watched you for a minute and then we went in. That was the last time that anything was ever okay.” Amini’s sounds unravel like a path leading out from Finney’s poetic implication. Violins and soft electronics droop under a sadness that slowly wilts anything it touches. Muffled voices and field recordings trace the faded shapes of happy thoughts, dragged out by echoes that smear their outlines even further, eroded from being over-cherished in times of need. Vocalising darkness can often be means of exorcising it, turning it into something tangible that can be rationalised and overcome. Yet by having Amini transform them back into an immaterial form – which the composer achieves with devastating potency, spreading Finney’s sadness into drones of horizon-spanning melancholia – he renews their vaporous omnipresence, releasing them back into the unconsciousness like a toxin, gifting them the permission to haunt him at times of quiet and rest.