Visited by its past, haunted by its sombre voice, the cool, tentative chords let you in on the music’s secret past, its tragedy. A teary tone drips out of the notes, seeping into the dull daylight; desperate to reconcile with history, but still suffering.
A haunted place can stay that way for a long time – sometimes, it can be permanent – and returning to that spot can be a very difficult thing. A vacant lot consumes the space where courage used to roam, and it can be hard to find the belief to carry on, to go through with it, knowing that the resulting episode will bring back nothing but tragic reminders and the painful tug of heartbreak. The throat constricts in the face of the confrontation, the heartbeat braces itself for an intense rush of speed and the memories flood back in, coming around one more time like the metronomic motion and rhythm of a playground swing.
And so James Murray walks the long walk as he climbs up to Mount View – the place where he spent much of his youth – and with it he brings to an end a tender trilogy that began with Floods (2012) and continued the year after with The Land Bridge. Mount View comes to bring closure and hope; a place where, in Murray’s words, ‘I can forgive and let go’. These places can resurrect dark periods, ones that we thought had long disappeared, but they can also rekindle the dawn. And going back to a fallen place can bring some much needed closure for the soul, can, in fact, start to heal the wounds that time, failing in its promise, never healed. The battle scars of life never really vanish, but they are a testament to an individual’s inner strength and resolve. They school us all in harsh lessons.
The piano progression of ‘Long Light’ casts a sombre tone on the place where once playful steps transpose into thicker shadows, the kind worn in adulthood; long, black cloaks that are torn at the seams, hiding a multitude of sorrows and haunting our steps wherever we go. The music slowly ushers in a light that blots out the darker shadows, which begin to meander drunkenly before evaporating. Electronic textures creep in and echo around the space, concealed behind a window, a door. James Murray has confronted something instead of running away from it, and that is a brave thing to do.
Mount View is a musical dramatization. Its tracks are different acts, a story that battles and rattles against its chains and instead chooses to bravely trust in the future and the resurrection of thin hope. Light trickles in, and by the time ‘Mount View’ is in sight, a cautious optimism has taken hold. Crows fly through the air, trying to paint it black; trying, perhaps, to paint the mood black. Their cries ring out, but they can’t dispel the growing optimism. Murray’s presence, along with the music, has dealt with his inner torment. The low, bleak clouds that hover over the November countryside don’t look so grey, and Murray’s drones lose weight; the electronics let the light in, as if Murray were peeling back the curtains.
Mount View looks out at the world with a clear conscious, but Murray’s eyes have cleared, too; the tears used to fall silently, like midnight rain.