Review: Ersatz – Hints Of…

ErsatzA hint may be emerging or receding, or eternally destined to only exist as a thin, estranged wisp of the entity itself. A hint often inhabits other sensations, manifesting as a streak of colour upon a larger shape. A hint arrives gradually, obscured and perhaps difficult to identify, easy to misconstrue as something else entirely. Each of the track titles completes the statement. “Hints Of Emergence”. “Hints Of Regret”. “Hints Of Memory”. Ersatz pours each piece into my head with grace and care, like a liquid that cannot be spilled, sending it gushing down the side of my skull to pool at the centre. These track titles float upon the surface of the sound like a leaf, and as “Hints Of Being” sends a trumpet rising out of a watery, two-chord guitar refrain – arching up in the air like the tail of a whale – I find myself aware of my cycling breath and slight tingles in my fingers, temporarily conscious of those primitive signifiers of being.

Hints Of… never resolutely commits to anything. The cascading pianos on “Hints Of Grace” start by nodding in the direction of Steve Reich, before vacating to the wings to leave a melody slumped alone in the centre of the frame. The weary acoustic guitar and violin on “Hints Of Regret” feel thoroughly sedated by sadness in the opening moments, although by the end of the piece, the tonality has lifted toward glimmers of recovery and hope. Each of these sentiments – comfort, acceptance, reflection – are temporary; sand slipping through the gaps in fingers, held for mere moments before passing through. Their transit is slow and inevitable. They disappear down prolonged funnels of reverb decay; perishing upon the old eroded tape that carries them, falling silent as plucking hands lose the desire to play them. There are moments on Hints Of… that drag me toward sadness or euphoric relief, although each of these states comes blemished by the prophecy of its own departure. One hint makes way for another.