Leyland Kirby began his musical career as a complete and utter punk in the best way. Starting with V/VM records, his initial impulse was to release totally bizarre music. This singular guiding principle led him down a series of disjointed paths, from outright noise assaults to stinging critiques of the music industry. It was this latter decision that led to his ‘hacking’ phase, where he remixed a number of highly beloved songs until one of those artists, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, decided to pursue legal action. Even before that moment, Leyland Kirby had started exploring other avenues, gentler pastures particularly the infinitely creepy The Caretaker project.
The Caretaker differed from his previous work. Unlike his other more brutal compositions, this one explored memory and the degradation of sound. Begun as homage of sorts to the Ballroom scene of “The Shining” the project took on a life of its own. Garnering Leyland Kirby a great deal of critical acclaim from John Peel to the Wire, The Caretaker outlasted Leyland Kirby’s V/VM record label, making the importance of creating a new identity of sorts for the nostalgia-soaked works, through the “History Favors The Winners” label devoted exclusively to this new tact. To ensure that his artistic change could be solidified, he got far away from the UK ending up in Berlin.
With “Everywhere At The End Of Time” he has created a six-part series devoted to cataloguing the stages of early onset dementia. Such an incredibly bleak subject to explore over a three-year period (scheduled to end in 2019 along with the end of The Caretaker project itself), yet the results have been deeply emotionally affecting. Every single release brings the listener closer and closer to the inevitable loss of memory. Layering and mixing is done with the deftest of touch, letting every release move ever so slightly into complete loss.
On “Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 3” ends up being by far the most intriguing of the series thus far. The Caretaker avoids the desire to simply explore the pure physical decay of the compositions, differentiating it from William Basinski’s output. In these compositions, the acknowledgement of the age takes its toll, for crackles and sudden drops are brought into the mix yet it works on a far deeper emotional level, as the music almost appears to fall into a fog at times. An emotional resonance exists within these pieces, a spectral ghost that has a quality reminiscent of Stephan Mathieu’s most affecting pieces. However, The Caretaker opts for a more direct, less intellectualized approach with a hard-hitting tact.
Embedded within the album’s DNA is the unavoidable decay. Joyful big band moments melt away into static and the abyss. A few of these pieces rank among The Caretaker’s finest work, from the bled-dry jaunt of “Back There Benjamin” to the disorientation of “Sublime Beyond Loss”. For that latter track The Caretaker deliberately confuses the sample, making it impossible to truly focus, letting it become lost. By far the true heart of the album rests with the otherworldly lullaby of “Long Term Dusk Glimpses” which appears to nearly fight the memory loss, at times becoming defiant against its doomed fate.
Hopefully The Caretaker’s next three installments in the series continue in this fine fashion, treating something as sensitive and heartbreaking as early onset dementia with such moving tenderness.