Review: A Wake A Week - Twelve Days

A Wake A Week - Twelve DaysI’ve spent my last few listens to Twelve Days straining to hear the poem tucked away in the background of the opening track. A woman is reading aloud, her voice raised as if battling the rumble of the wind. I imagine her leaning over the edge of a cliff, tossing the words into the expanse in front of her. Eventually I discover that the poem in question is AWE: A Dialogue by Dorothea Lasky – a rolling debate between two people (or two inner voices in conflict perhaps), overturning eachother’s arguments and clarifying assumptions, extracting tiny grains of questioning within the desert of ambiguity that is the answer prior.

This poem is a tiny speck within a mist of strings, piano droplets and field recordings in idle public spaces. A piano melody tries to bed down inside the soundscape, although it never sounds comfortable; a low drone generates the impression of a thin rope running right beneath its back, while rasping strings seem to tug the image off balance. Dissonances appear like limbs coiling uncomfortably during a restless night of sleep, and while Lasky’s poem is a tiny speck at the back of the frame, the surrounding music nonetheless rocks to the rhythm of its sentiment: tilting back and forth between perspectives, undermining melodies with anti-melodies, shuffling quietly between truth and speculation.

Gradually, the album becomes a lingering, inconsolable sense of unease. Drones thread themselves through every channel of empty space, leaving little oxygen left for me. Harps whimper in expectation of something terrible. Those recordings of public spaces start to feel like swarms of insects; clots of noise within my field of hearing. A Wake A Week manages to formulate an insidious atmosphere of distress: one that conceals itself within the innocence of running water or the beauty of modern classical harmony, quietly evident in how the bow rasps across the strings and how low frequencies hang in the gut like unshakable prophetic nausea. The experience has the pacing of a funeral march, albeit for a tragedy that has yet to take place.