Review: Competition – Repetititive Music

SLIP.

Repetition triggers a slow inversion of first impressions. The elegant becomes overwrought; the whim becomes a declarative act. It’s through this process that the majestic opening sentiment on Repetititive Music – a loop of ascending strings, like an ornate mansion staircase – degrades with every repeat. The paint starts to chip. The decoration feels excessive. Meanwhile, Craig Pollard’s voice slowly radiates out from the centre. Initially appearing like mutterings during absent-minded kitchen chores, his words (“want to move out of the flat you own, want to move out of the flat you’re in on your own”) solidify into a truth that patters the subconscious like a dripping tap. The deadpan wordplay on “own”, tilting between associations of possession and solitude, are like the molar marks on a realisation that’s been chewed over all night and well into the day. By the end of the track, the strings have worn themselves down into colourless acoustic fact, while Pollard’s voice croaks on the edge of tears.

From here on in, the musical accompaniment refuses to throw any lush gestures. As if keen to avoid the same humiliating erosion of grandeur, the loops arrive in pre-emptive disrepair: the dust-clogged organ on “saint”, the inkblot electronics on “30%”. With the walls reduced to blurs and Pollard trapped within his own home, the lyrics press themselves, like a palm upon an open wound, into regrets about inaction and speculations as to the intentions and feelings of others, filling the absence of new experiences with a wretched wringing out of the past, channelling brittle acapella R&B on “oh know” and seemingly reciting a stream-of-consciousness text message on “misery space”. Most penetrating of all is the idling melody and auto-tuned sighs on “guitar” whose lyrics (“thunder came after the sun, and the rain it was warm”) beg to be pulled apart into metaphors about the salvation found within hard times. Yet when penned from the perspective of someone trapped inside the seemingly endless cycle of a solitary day, perhaps a literal reading suffices just fine; this might just be a yearning to stand beneath the never-repeating undulation of the sky, feeling something other than stagnation settle upon the skin.