The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time: Stage 6

Leyland James Kirby

Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 6 wraps things up, not in neat little bows, but with episodes of great upset and distress. It’s the ugly and lonesome monologue of death…and its door is opening. For The Caretaker, the end is inevitable. Permanent. The ballroom glows. Submerged, decomposing melodies grow in volume.

What happens when one crosses the line and steps into the room? What happens after the lights go out?

There’s no question that Stage 6 unravels, almost disembowelling itself with its trenches of thick fog. Its darkness is so prevalent it renders the listener blind.

Stage 6 is the final hour, the sound of the self dying, and the death of its music. The body is a vessel, a limited being with an expiration date, but music, like the soul, is a disembodied force, so perhaps its heart does go on. As everything fades away, The Caretaker waves goodbye with a glimmer of acceptance. Families will try to go on. Loved ones will never forget. The band will continue to play, the brass instruments spattering clumps of wet soil upon the stage, and the Earth will continue to turn.

The ending also brings relief. No more worries. No more suffering. Just a deep peace.

This all began at Stage 1, in what feels like a lifetime ago, when the diagnosis was delivered and the first symptom arrived. This is not where it all falls apart (that’s already happened, in Stage 5), but it’s where the story ends.

The music sinks into a black void. There’s nothing here; just an endless tunnel with no beginning or middle or ending. Darkness. No arrows to follow. No direction. No light. Not even a torch. The music sinks into a black void. There’s nothing here; just an endless tunnel with no middle or ending. No direction. Not even a torch. No light. There’s nothing here; just an endless tunnel without end. No light. No directions. Just a black, heaving void. A House of Leaves, swallowing itself, engulfing itself. Its punctured punctuation and the frightening hallucinations – a rumbling, a growling, a howling – light up the black tunnels like nightmarish fireworks. The disconnecting of responses and the severing of signals. Pops and crackles. The music sinks into a void occupied by nothing but darkness. A real Disintegration Loop, circa 2019. No melody. A dissolution of self. Over and over and over again.

The final release from The Caretaker puts to bed beauty and tragedy. The project has been at the apex of hauntological study, and now it must fall. Its exploration of personality, memory, and nostalgia was something of a poisoned antidote to the mind-numbing idiocy and fakery of popular culture.

Sounds crackle at the edges, audibly ripping apart what was once whole, returning to ashes. A thick, confusing atmosphere lingers, like a wisp of cigarette smoke or a headache of massive proportions, even as the bar empties and the people vanish. The irreversible nature of the disease means there’s no turning back. The hallway leads to one place and one place only: The Haunted Ballroom, whose doors were first unearthed back in 1999, twenty years ago. Thoughts are wrapped up in barbed wire. Incoherence rules.

Until the third piece.

‘Long Decline Is Over’ introduces an unexpected feeling of sublime peace; suffering is over. Perhaps there is a paradise, after all, because as the hard edges dissolve away and a tyrannical grip releases the body, the soul is free to wander, drifting into an eternal resting place. The big band’s blurred melodies echo down the elongated hallway, calling out and ballooning, growing in volume. The doors are already open. This is a track of release. Muscles relax. Breathing stops.

‘Place in the World fades away’ finishes everything off. The tired track is a farewell, its rolling (and beautiful) sounds pushing the track towards a dull euphoria. Its elongated higher pitches are like peace offerings, sounding like something from his ‘Deleted Scenes, Forgotten Dreams’. It’s ambient to the max, floating, free, at peace. A minute-long silence abruptly ends proceedings. Was the brain hallucinating all along, or is there nothing but emptiness, nothing but silence? The cables have been cut. Another guest checks in. Another dancer graces the ballroom.

www.thecaretaker.bandcamp.com

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