Mem1 – Tetra (Vinyl)
Distressed notes run asunder on Tetra, a vinyl-only offering from the duo, Mem1. A current, quivering along these three fine works, creates a unique yet indistinct mass that, as we follow along in its icy wake, degrades and renders the listener inert, as we wait to meet the ghosts.
On “Trieste”, a protracted mist invites us into the abyss. A hypnotic, dream-like state ensues and I go beyond the reality of the sounds, finding a hidden universe to wallow and wade in. In this state, I am reminded of images of events that seem part of my life but may never have happened. Instead, remembrances of half-forgotten dreams that congeal to form tangible memories, of walking through a torrential downpour on a sunny day and finding a broken teacup in the middle of the sidewalk, the paint faded on one side and the leftover tea grains create a muddy mixture of water when mixed and churned with the raindrops. It seems fitting that each of these tracks is an exploration of an extreme environment. The water imagery runs rampant with “Trieste”. Stranded on the ocean floor, I imagine the pressure becomes unbearable. Likewise, the finely tuned discordant noises design striations in the sand; the stillness and soft darkness allow for the pressure to languish, recede, and a massive cloud of upturned sand and soot gradually moves over the whole piece, coaxing the particulars out through the sallow abyss.
“Caldera” is by far the most forceful of the tracks. I was on the edge of my seat, clutching my headphones and my pen as I thought about ghosts. I dove into the music and began: Do we go to the ghosts or do the ghosts meet us? Must we be receptive to them? The rising din of sound allowed a presence to take shape in my mind, a feeling of connection to something other. I was reminded of stories a friend of mine told me, who grew up with a presence at his house. His family grew accustomed to the strange activity and disruptive noise, which would start off in a barely audible way and gradually increase as if the presence wanted the attention, or a connection to reality was getting stronger. I remember asking him whether they’ve taken measures to rid the house of this presence and he said that they all live together and that they’ve learned to accept the fact that the ghosts have as much a right to be there as they do. “Caldera” moves in similar way, ambling from inaudible squelches to a force that announces its presence at the top of its lungs. Similarly, after listening I feel as though I’ve experienced an encounter with a ghostly apparition, but it’s hard to distinguish between what I thought happened or was merely a dream.
On side B, “Hraesvelgr” begins its slow, studied journey through a barren wasteland. The drifting wind perambulates through as a desolate horn clamors for air; assorted pangs of sound crop up, tingling far too far away. Stillness is revisited then abandoned. A charge of current levies a sustained drone. The sounds harkens back to this memory of sticking my finger in a light socket. While its likely this never happened to me, I imagine the feeling one has and the sound associated with this action, is not unlike what one hears on this track. For eighteen minutes, there’s so much to explore and discover along the way. I revisit the striations in the sand to see if anything tangible can be discerned. I’m reminded of ghosts that never bothered to meet me. Certain dreams have become foundations of my memory; the teacup prevails and endures.
The measured brush strokes on Tetra are a triumph for Mem1. Each moment is significant to the next as these three profound pieces move beyond the reality of the sounds to create an ongoing expedition into the uncanny.