The Caretaker – An Empty Bliss Beyond This World album review

James Kirby will release a new album by his project The Caretaker called An Empty Bliss Beyond This World on June 21, 2011.

The album is conceptual in nature like most of Kirby’s works. The Caretaker moniker was inspired by the Stephen King film The Shining in which this line is spoken: “I’m sorry to differ with you, sir. But you are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I should know, sir. I’ve always been here.” It is part of a scene in which the past caretaker, who is presumably dead, informs the present one that he had never been the caretaker. In this manner, Bliss takes nostalgic parlor room music and causes the listener to forget how it even started. Bits and pieces of old-fashioned tunes are looped as they are layered on top of crackling vinyl recordings. Since 1996, the British musician has created eerily beautiful sounds that could be heard emanating from a haunted ballroom.

Memory as a theme is used constantly throughout Bliss. Each track was made using a specific moment in a song from a previous era. That moment once isolated has then been edited to repeat unto itself yet behave as if it were the continuation of a finite melody. The listener can pinpoint that moment, but without rapt attention may be unable to recognize the minute changes that Kirby has put into the track. Therefore, on most of the album it sounds like two similar phrases being looped forever.

The structure of the track listing is fairly interesting. All of the titles are longer than usual and give a reference to either brain function or the afterlife. The title track “An Empty Bliss Beyond This World” appears twice as does the track “Mental Caverns without Sunshine.” However, “Mental Caverns” is composed much the same way in both appearances, yet on the second airing the track is about half as long as the original. The track ebbs and ebbs and ebbs and ebbs until it’s about to finally flow when of course it just ends abruptly instead. Fifth on the release is titled “I Feel Like I Might Be Vanishing.” The repeated phrase on this one sounds like a romantic movie score from the 1930s.

Bliss contains a trove of forgotten memories that are wonderful to discover or maybe even rediscover for the first time.

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