Have you ever seen those ‘Halloween Sounds’ CDs in shops for a quid? They’re surprisingly good. They are some of the finest examples of harsh noise music out there. Over dank soundscapes guttural screams and haunting effects are played. Next time you see one pick it up and give it a go. They’re class. Listening to Yair Elazar Glotman’s new album ‘Speculative Memories’ I’m reminded of these albums. While there isn’t anything resembling gallows dropping or monsters cackling the soundscapes created are harrowing and expertly crafted.
The album starts with ‘A Year’. This is one of the more upbeat songs on ‘Speculative Memories’. Though at the time it doesn’t feel that way. Eddies of sound swirl around you. About a minute in manipulated vocals start to emerge. This is the standout moment on the song, and album. They hammer home the emotion of the album. As ‘A Year’ progresses its abstraction starts to play out. Sounds are stretched, and skewed, to create news sounds. These sounds are mixed with existing sounds to create something that is constantly moving, but sometimes not very fast. ‘A Child’ follows with more of the same, but with darker vibes. By the time we get to ‘A Valley’ the album is really popping. ‘A Valley’ might be the standout moment, with its odd animalistic sounds sounding like they’re emerging from a fog. The music is chilling and listening to this on headphones is a real treat. Especially if its dark out and everyone else is asleep in bed.
One thing that Glotman does really well is with the naming of the songs. Listening to the music and reading the track title is like to diamond bullet to the brain. It just works so well. Take the album closer for example. ‘A Storm’ is chocked full of choral vocals. These are chilling but under maelstroms whip and churn. Creating dense soundscapes that are hard to penetrate but give off sorrowful vibes. The vocals help to create an almost pensive mood. ‘A Child’ is slightly playful but also serious. Like all children are underneath their innocent exteriors. ‘A Valley’ feels like walking through a valley in the mist. ‘A Mirror’ is clever as it reflects back the sounds a few seconds later, creating a pleasantly dulcet experience.
At its heart ‘Speculative Memories’ is a broody affair. There are no patches of light here. Everything is broody and dripping in despondency. The music evokes grief but is peppered with killer melodies that make you want to keep listening. Which is a real skill. This isn’t an album I will play a lot. You might, but I won’t. However, when I am in the mood for it, I will play it a LOT back-to-back until I can’t take it anymore. Then I’ll play it a couple of more times, to get it out of my system. Once out I’ll leave it well alone until I need its presence again.
It’s a clever, inventive album that feel impenetrable on a first listen, but after a few more plays you start to find its charm. Much like the ‘Halloween Sounds’ albums it reminds me of, it needs to be the right season to enjoy it. The nights need to be darker. The wind a little more frantic outside and the rain pouring for me to get the most from it. Which, luckily for me, is the weather tonight. I’m going to batten down the hatches and dive back in. I recommend you do the same.
Words: Nick Roseblade