Tape Loop Orchestra – The Invisibles

“We fear the abyss called death because of a lack of imagination. Give up your death! Other dimensions exist beyond this material world, and the people there are shining a light for us to follow”

Around the time of Hallowe’en and Dia de los Muertos, the spirit world shuffles towards the living, and its inhabitants carry glowing lanterns to light the way. As afternoons succumb to longer nights, the decidedly chilly winds of November require thicker coats as they rattle the bones, and the frights of October fade away. Some spirits still linger; they make themselves known through Tape Loop Orchestra’s music, like the senile smell of a perfume from the 1940’s.

Some of them take up residence inside The Invisibles, working their way into the very fabric of the music, but other phantoms share the space, too. They’re artificially created, spooling out of a recurring nightmare’s webbed strands and surreal scenarios. The notes are fragile and transparent, and an almost ethereal atmosphere blows over the music like a cloud of cigarette smoke. Right from the off, the vocals of Beth Roberts haunt The Invisibles, settling down in a cool space, as if seated on the periphery of a dead nightclub. Shrouded in fog, the stalker that we call death suspends itself over the music, circling its next, clueless victim like a grotesque disco ball.

Her striking lyricism soon loops and decays, and like a disintegrating memory her sturdy and strong voice begins to lose its once-reliable, storm-proof sound. It slowly shrinks and wastes away, like an underused muscle, losing its physicality, becoming spirit. Her held notes are like long strands of ectoplasm that so famously spluttered out of the mouth during private séances in the Victorian era. And the music is covered in a swollen layer of century-old dust, its skin permanently mummified. The processed strings try to emit their own kind of weak radiance – they’re used to shining brightly – but even these have grown pale. Something intangible rubs against the music, making The Invisibles less of a faked episode of Most Haunted and more of an authentic paranormal investigation. Her voice chants its hymn, spreading as if from a localized infection. When the vocals fade away, they drift into the unknown and their absence creates a presence. The strings slowly swell, swirling and roiling in the murky tempest that engulfs life and death. The notes waver, staggering through the ambient-lit fog, zombie-like. They wear a cloak, and they drape themselves over the fog.

On Side Two, the notes are even thinner. The ice is crackling in the background, and the tones are close to disintegrating. An angelic chorus appears, trying to lift the music up and embalming it with its layers of vocal honey. Over the years, so many people have claimed to have seen a tunnel of white light as their own near-death experiences were recounted, and now this light hovers over the music. The disembodied spirit looks down on a temporary vessel it used to call home. All the saints are here, and it doesn’t matter if they’re the illusions of a misfiring brain. They’re with you, and that’s what matters. Death stalks the music as the misty-grey tones sit underneath the vocals, acting like lamp posts that illuminate inner circles of safe light to counteract a world perpetually suffocated by darkness and cruelty. The music isn’t here to hurt. It’s like a lantern, lighting the way for a smooth, liquid returning.

Available through Boomkat on 11.11.16

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