Last Harbour – Escape Was All I Ever Meant
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There’s a succinct difference between lying and being economical with the truth. The latter, what most people use as a privacy shield, happens prior to any theoretical advent of lying. To lie pushes this advent into a realistic full block of privacy, and as for what the recipient thinks, it doesn’t really matter. Because for the liar, what they believe is more important…
The idealising of what is economical and that which is false is also a pitfall of the remix project. The listener asked to remix a work has to decide whether certain sounds fit their narrative, or whether they contradict their meaning, just like a lie itself. The producer’s mindset then ponders a wheat/chaff base approach to sampling from original material, and uses economy with a plan to eradicate falseness. Where that split is lacking, it can be deduced there’s an indecisivess between being economical and lying – a lying to oneself with thinking an idea would work at all.
It’s testament to “Escape Was All I Ever Meant” and its pleasing economy and falseness – or linguistically, what’s regularly posited at Alt. music – the foregone conclusion principle of pretension – of Last Harbour’s “Your Heart, It Carries The Sound”, that this remix project bags up the essentials and lies to oneself in terms of thematic consistency; much as indie music does with sweet nothings in the ear of recipient. Yet, like the propensity of a lie, when I think of a harbour, I don’t think of it as an arrival service. It’s always about departure, of a key to future freedom. When you have a band called Last Harbour, those ideas don’t quite correspond. Their name has a certain action-refrain, an inflexuous foreboding of disaster waiting to happen. And fittingly, Last Harbour’s compositions, rooted in the quiet/loud calamity of post-rock-meets baroque dramatics, also banshee-band a gothic portent to their music.
This portent, like a lie, dissolves with a platitude to compromise. Gone on all remixes is the indie song structure that makes Last Harbour’s “Alternative” bracketing seem conventional. This bonus CD, in an edition of 100 at act-fast basis, to me is more attitudnally refreshing than “Your Heart, It Carries The Sound”. That might be because Little Red Rabbit have invited eight uniquely talented remixers to join the hood, from The Wire-acclaimed Sone Institute and his electronic spasm-centricity, to the highlight version of “If You Mean To Be Lost” by A.R.C Soundtracks. Paul Gregory commences with the mantric theme: “You never ever lied / You never truly tried to tell the truth”, penning svelte drumwork and Marsen Jules-like melodic toppings. 23 Hanging’s take on “The Heath” has backing instrumentation knotted to past and lets David Armes’ voice melt into the wax.
Fieldhead, one musician familiar to Fluid Radio regulars, being part of the Japan Benefit “Kanshin” compilation, recontextualises lyrical presence to a filtered whistling, splitting “Open Up And Rust” headroom with a fragile Electronica beat that doesn’t outstay its welcome. “If you mean to be lost, are you ever truly lost?” poses another consequentiality of economy and lying: it’s a perceptual non sequitir to suggest a mindset, but is that mindset really a vehicle for changeover? A.R.C Soundtracks cuddle the violin like a slide guitar works in shoegaze, and the drums indeed impose likeness to the underexposed Slowdive cut “Country Rain”. Blk W Bear, first of the Front & Follow 4 CD box set artists from 2010, shoehorns “The Stars Look Down” to a dubbed nighttime feel, dissimilar atmospherically with dub techno stalwarts Deep Chord. Sone Institute’s lacksaidaisical, repeatedly yawning synth and fragments of Armes’ vocal leads us into another proposition of economy and lie: time and place play an important role in the arbitrary realities of truth and justice.
That’s no less true when you account for the environments Armes and his band recorded “Your Heart, It Carries The Sound” in; a Northumbrian cottage sidechained to St. Margaret’s Church in Manchester, where they bounced off the architecture inspirationally. As a contextual result the heavily deconstructionistic “Replacements” by Slowsecrets couldn’t be a more apt conclusion; at 20 minutes, outstripping the length of all others by over three times; swashbuckling transparent drone porosity – what contemporary electronic innovator Steve Roach issued with his “Quiet Music” in 1988. The soundscape alternates gravitas of wash like listerine to your brain, and finalises an outro on the economy/lie juxtaposition – some are in it for chance, while others stick at it for the long haul. As a soundtrack to that internalised self-monologue, Last Harbour’s “Escape Was All I Ever Meant” doesn’t put a foot wrong, and intrigues questioning humanitarianly. Now that’s one harbour I actually want to arrive at one day.
- Mick Buckingham for Fluid Radio