Review: 1982 - A/B

1982 - A:BIt’s a dramatic hot air balloon flight, and the brass and woodwind sidle past me like wispy, cotton wall condensation, playfully nudging the yaw of my drift in grand chicanes across the skyline. Tiny breaths and clunking buttons sound like the vintage creaks of my wooden basket, or the ropes and leavers knocking against the framework – it’s an idyllic and colour-saturated opening, and perhaps it’s my own fault for being so blissfully oblivious to the streaks of grey thickening across the cloud perimeters. In the absence of any rhythm to cling onto, I float into the dissonance that curdles surreptitiously into being like an unforecast summer storm, as violins turn from glossy ribbons into sharp fizzles of lightning; just as I feel helplessly swallowed up by the atmosphere that tilts from light into dark (and eventually back again), the players on A/B tumble into the black as though unable to stop themselves, puppeteered by a momentum that becomes increasingly vigorous.

With a few smacks of tom drum I slam back onto the earth, and the record’s motion mutates from a ceaseless glide to an arduous, aimless pilgrimage on foot for the second half. The melodies feel stranded, like palms facing upward waiting for purpose to fall into them; each track hoists itself forward with a sturdy determination, fixated on a horizon that rolls over and over again in eternally renewed mystique. Voices croak and groan in a tug of momentary, woozy fatigue under sunset, while the clunk of changing pitch becomes laboured and somewhat unsettled, like a gigantic wooden marionette fidgeting during sleep. I don’t end my journey through A/B cradled in the arms of resolve, and as harmonium throbs beneath a snare drum that quivers like butterfly wings, I’m left miles from whence I came and no closer to understanding where I’m heading – the major key that carries me out feels like an empty optimistic remark, like an “it’s okay” spoken to someone whose longing and disconcertion runs unfathomably deep.