I Remember When, the sixth album from nostalgic-ambient artist Ex Confusion, deals with memory. Based in Tokyo, Atsuhito Omori returns to n5MD on March 22 with a string of smeared memories and further experiences. Abstract and overcast, Omori’s ambient music uses repetition and processed guitars, which are then embedded like old and frayed memories upon old and frayed formats. The transient and necessary path of life on Earth can be heard within its still music, its fading sequences nevertheless recurring over and over again in a mind that never wants to forget; the self and its personality is tied up in and influenced by the brain’s memories. As one will write down thoughts on paper, so too does Omori delicately engrave his textures; his penmanship is an expanding ambient, his blank page becoming stained in a blurry flood of washed-out and emotionally-delicate notes. These pieces are more about remembering and less about forgetting. Although the two often go hand-in-hand – one of them being unable to live without the other for too long, like yin and yang – the music wants to remember every single detail even as its images age and its photographs wear away at the corners; the muddied notes speak of the struggle when dealing with the topic of remembrance, even with such a beautiful photograph trapped somewhere behind the glass casings of the mind. The way her eyes lit up, the coronas a beautiful halo of colour; this too becomes hard to zero in on.
The memory lives in the underlying brain-fog of old age, its rougher and sometimes shorter episodes dropping in like an unexpected vignette in the middle of the afternoon. The abrasive brevity of ‘Forgiveness’ indicates the pain of the act as well as the strong willpower to see it through. No-one said it would be easy, but its rough texture, although only brief, seems to be working it out, seeking atonement. Its sandpaper-like tone doesn’t digest as smoothly and it’s indicative of a poisonous thought, of something within that can’t let go of an issue, and that holds it back from forgiving, but its tones are also in the process of fading, its negative emotions perhaps finally ready to disappear, and the music dissolves in absolution; a total surrender to the negative, and tiring, waste of energy. Although just a minute long, it’s a clear track, weakly shining through like the morning sun after the heart’s darkest night. Ultimately, forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It leads to the longer ‘Tears’, which is another part of the healing process. Of course, moments can bring about sadness, and although Omori looks back, his music seems to be more concerned with the actual act of remembrance, and the emotions that initially struck the heart at the time of the mental photograph, rather than a sombre reflection of what things used to be like, of how they ended. ‘She Waited For You’ is similarly short, but the picture feels complete; the memory has ghosted in and out of the mind, as and when it wanted to.
‘I Owe The Earth A Body’ features Benoit Pioulard, aka Thomas Meluch, and its silk-smooth ambient music delivers. The title track swirls in the mix, and the layers come together and fall apart, completing a natural order and a mortal law in which everything must abide. Sometimes, though, acceptance can be hard. ‘What I Miss Most’ tugs at the heartstrings with a heavy dose of nostalgia. ‘Your Touch’ ends the album, but the penultimate track can be tied onto the coda…what I miss most is your touch. What one misses most is often what one deems to be most precious. These memories are, for the most part, at least, a warming comfort for the heart, worn like a necklace of faith in rougher weather, accessible even on rainy days.