Review of Lay-by Lullaby [12k1079]

Touching Extremes (IT)

There’s a precise explanation – besides the regard for most everything Janek Schaefer does – inherent to my immediate feeling for his soundworld in Lay-By Lullaby. In fact, the work – originating from a namesake installation – features numerous among the susurrations emitted by the subconscious that I experienced as an immature pup, obviously incidental to audible indicants that struck the impressionable (future) writer at that time. The whooshing exhalations generated by cars speeding up in the distance; the periodical whir of something resembling a vacuum cleaner (or equivalent domestic appliance… I could be wrong, though); the alteration of a vinyl record’s rotation; the foreign voices from the AM radio at late evening. There’s more: some of you will likely concur about the specific shades of what’s retained by the memory from the childhood period, circumstances crossed maybe 40/45 years ago that frequently re-emerge in the meanderings subjacent to sopor and psychic fatigue. Schaefer seems to be particularly keen on exploiting that area of re-adjusted insight, creating sounds that may appear harmless on a quick investigation (well, the very press release considers the record a soothing one, and who am I to state the opposite?).

However – since we don’t content ourselves with what gets given away easily and effortlessly – let me ask: do you remember the fear of getting lost? The sense of comfortableness deriving from sleeping on your dad’s car’s back seat during a travel? The unique olfactory sensation born from your re-opened bedroom after the summer holidays, connected with the happiness of finding all your treasured possessions in their place? Over the time, I have come to believe that those were basic signs of fright linked to a vague concept of impermanence. This particular music – like several other samples of this same artist’s output – manages to wake it up quite unexpectedly in spite of the relief donated by its luminescent halos, uncrystallized shapes and drawn-out loops. Do treat it like an enhancement of calmness (in case you’re in dire need of the latter). But don’t trust the reassuring smiles of those ghosts, for they can gently lead an engrossed and fragile listener back to a door that’s probably better left closed. For the perils of yearning always threaten a hardly reached equanimity.

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