Various Thoughts and Places is the debut full-length album from ‘t Geruis, and it sees the Belgian musician seeking to find symmetry and balance between beauty and the broken, as well as exploring their complex relationship. Melancholia and nostalgia – which so often go hand-in-hand – linger in the gaps between brokenness and beauty, and the two frequently overlap. Musicians have always found creative inspiration in those feelings, and the Portuguese word saudade sums it up nicely, as no other word comes close to describing the lingering ache of loss or change. Saudade is a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for something or someone that one cares for and loves, and it comes with the knowledge that the object of longing might never be had again. This feeling permeates the music of Various Thoughts and Places.
The loops are coated in loose, unwinding spools of hiss and light interference, which envelops the melody and its phrase, but the background rustling also provides some kind of comfort, wrapping up the music like a protective layer of cotton. The loops are deep within their own thoughts, stuck there, unable to escape and, sometimes, seeming to reflect the ill-lit caverns of memory, degrading in the process, ageing along with the minutes. But beauty can be seen in decay, and there’s no doubt that these rusting melodies are beautiful, the music putting on that special dress once again, looking in the mirror at its sublime fabric of notes – slightly worn and frayed after all these years, true, but still able to contain the essence of its memories and moments.
Perhaps they are places we have actually been, feelings we have actually felt, or visions we have truly laid eyes upon. Or perhaps, as the mind often does, maybe they are simply an illusion…a false recollection, an embellishment of the past. Existing in that zone between what is real and what feels real
Some of its songs are broken, but they’re not idle or permanently downcast. They’re trying to repair, regrow, and reclaim some vital part of themselves, a part lost to time, age, or broken through a negative experience. On ‘Where Birds Resonate’, the sounds thrum like wings, seeking to rebuild a broken nest and make straight a composition of cluttered thoughts as a steady, melodic loop plays on; it becomes rhythmical as well as melodic, digging deeper into its thoughts to concentrate on the task at hand. Most of its melodies are coated in dirt, rising up as if out of a tape-grave, its melodies emanating from a mouth that’s forgotten how to speak and a voice that can’t sing anymore. Muddied incoherence is a significant feature of the music. It tries with desperation to recall an essential recollection or an image of a longed-for person, and the struggle to paint an accurate picture is audible in its tense, caged loop.
As they walk, the loops splinter, changing slightly before reverting back to their old selves, but there are glints of remembrance and the sunshine it can bring. Birth and eventual decay make up the order of things; they’re the most natural things in the world. Some of its loops are quite elegant and balletic, safe in the knowledge that beauty can exist in any single moment. It’s reassuring to know that memories can be stored up in the heart, and they can provide warmth during a long night. But nothing is permanent. While the loop may try to cling on, decay is clearly setting in. The wrinkles are appearing, its tonal-skin is sagging, the grey in its hair becomes more prevalent. Music, like the mortal shell of the human body, must eventually bend to the inevitable. And the music is okay with that.