Reading through the Pages From The Alamance Hymnal, tragic memories start to converge. Riffling through the pages of Lost Trail’s impressive discography, created between 2011 and 2013, Pages From The Alamance Hymnal breathes with life and decay. Clouds of ancient dust rise out from the crumpled pages as the book is opened, and the musty scent of worn paper lingers in the turning atmosphere. It’s a cathedral that has fallen into ruin, a state that was once a thriving area of opportunity; instead, the decay set in, and the industrial beating heart beats no more. This side of America is fatigued, leaving nature to claim back at least some of the mechanical rust so prevalent to the 20th century. It’s a place where melodies fuse with the natural environment – in the parks, in the woodland – but there is decay here, too. Silence echoes out of forgotten abbeys. Leather-bound, stained with black, these pages echo out melancholic incantations for lost hearts. If you’ve ever seen The Evil Dead, you’ll know too well that the reading aloud of ancient inscription is never a good thing, but here the reading is a subtle one, uncovering an open invitation to the spiritual; the other, unseen side. The afterlife enters into the present, replaying some horrific tragedy, enacted out over and over again due to shock and the prospect of letting go. Lost Trail conduct a séance, comunicating through the ghost box of ambience, consoling survivors who left loved ones too early, or grieving couples wanting just one more touch.
Tombs are clothed in a static of drone from beyond, as indistinct voices filter through the ambience, as thin as a wounded, blood-dried vein, spilling stains of red over the black Hymnal. It isn’t just the life that drains away; it is hope. It was once a hope that resembled The American Dream, only now, in this corner of America, the emphasis has been placed firmly on the word ‘dream’.
It’s beautiful music, almost serene, and it’s the ethereal aura that makes it beautiful. The music flirts with unseen frequencies other than human. Ghost boxes continue to tune into and pick up static, but the atmosphere is tired, a town that is past caring, dialed into a permanent frequency that is at times beautifully lit by spectral beings and at others electrically charged with fierce terror.
Lost Trail, the project of Zachary Corsa and Denny Corsa, here open up a deeply reflective, lo-fi style of ambient music that is rooted deeply within suburban America, and, more specifically, North Carolina. The hymnal’s pages are ripped straight out of the forests, taken from trees that absorb the substance of slaughtered suffering, a culled environment that echoes its dark history out of nature’s woodland and into the pebble-strewn roads leading into the townships of human design.
Signals continue to drip into the radio band, but the residents are trapped in one dimension, unable to see that the melancholia is littered throughout the distance of the past and yet caught up in the present day, like a poltergeist condemned to one room (normally taking up residency in the cold confines of an attic or a basement), haunting the very same suburban street decade after decade.
Suburban ghosts breathe once more, where the stacks of books are left to decay on the floor, some ripped and with pages missing, and smashed plates litter the side of the wall; the sign of a broken home, or of paranormal activity. Abandoned houses on the other side of the street loom from the safe distance of the sidewalk, with paint-faded facades and a creaking porch revealing bare, untouched floorboards. ‘Spiritual Warfare/Fuck Satan’ faces this supernatural element head-on, a beautiful track where a lighter, major melody struggles with its own belief system, somehow distorted and suppressed by a thickening drone with unknown, murky intent.
‘Distant Sprawl Halogens And Snow On Car Windshields’ drifts down the highway on the outskirts of town, past a melancholic scene, where perhaps a car crash has claimed another victim, where floral tributes litter the side of the road and the fluorescent lights of an evening rush hour leave a never ending trail of white-coloured orbs, running down the roads like a constant stream of rain, teardrops with destinations. The artificial light that emanates from the high mast lighting, itself glowing an eerie and unnatural light, is only a recurring, vague corona rebounding against the windshield.
You can’t escape the past, and there’s a sense that Lost Trail aren’t trying to escape it at all. If anything, they long to return.
Diluted voices, echoing as if through a tunnel of thin, frail memories, fragile and left hanging on connected strands of long ago, trail over a weary drone. Looping thoughts and worn out melodies linger in the atmosphere, unable to let go. A distorted presence walks through the susceptible drone, possessing the music with a static-heavy plea for release. It’s a sound that is grounded to the gravitational force of reality, but is incredibly open to the supernatural.
The radio recalls another victim, losing control of her car on ‘Out Here The Maps Go White And Pale’. Tragedy is something that Lost Trail return to again and again; it is everywhere, looping in the subconscious mind, in the local newspapers and onto the streets. You can almost feel it breathing heavily on the chest. A recorded conversation about the precious nature of life ensues, as thin as the trail of drone just above the radio broadcast. Safety can be an illusion; really, we’re all just driving along, with no seatbelts for company.
Out here, loitering in the streets, the youth are a fallen generation; our pale ghosts ashen with past promise, itself fading away, with nothing good to say and nothing to do on the afternoon streets. These are the real ghosts. A white, somewhat familiar figure drapes itself in static; turning the air cool, erasing the steam on a mug of cold coffee. Broken loops solemnly circle, gorgeous in their failure. On ‘White Faces Greyed Out’, a melody desperately tries to push through the static. A once-loved pop song, now only disintegrated ashes, becomes choked with the scent of October; burning autumn leaves and the charring of paper. The Alamance Hymnal hangs suspended in the air, even after the pages have been torn apart.
– James Catchpole for Fluid Radio