“Memory is the faculty of the mind by which information is encoded, stored and retrieved. Memory is vital to experiences and Limbic systems, it is the retention over time of information for the purpose of influencing future actions. (Sherwood, 2015) If we could not remember past events, we could not learn or develop language, relationships nor personal identity.(Eysenck, 2012)”
Memory plays an important part in the make up of a person, these can include pleasurable and also traumatic memories. It’s understandable then, that in the Modern Classical and Ambient community’s, that releases devoted to the times in the life of the artist are increasing in their numbers. Influential works such as Basinski’s many releases, The Caretaker numerous albums and many more.
Tim Linghaus on his debut full length album “Memory Sketches” which is released on March 30 on the Schole and 1631 Recordings labels, delves into significant moments in his past. From pleasant memories such as crossing the inner German border after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 through to the sadder ones like the passing of his father. The majority of the memories are from growing up in the 80’s and 90’s with the most recent being the afore-mentioned passing of his father in 2002.
As Linghaus talks about the importance of memories: “What I know is memories help me to define who I am. They establish connection between me and everything that is not present or future – sometimes sharp or palpable, more often soft and frail. Unfortunately, some memories fade away irrecoverably. Hence I am quite afraid of losing them. The idea behind Memory Sketches is to give particular memories a form, to preserve them if you like.“
As the title suggests the tracks on the album are short with an average running time of a little over a minute, which perfectly captures the essence of a memory which is generally a snapshot of time rather than a full-blown narrative. Over the sixteen tracks Linghaus, with the occasional help of Sebastian Selke (aka CEEYS) on cello utilizes an upright piano alongside synthesizer and the use of noises to, as Linghaus says “emphasizes the vague/blurry quality of most of the memories”
The album opens with “LOOKING FOR DAD IN RADIO NOISE” a half-minute static meets hypnotic loops meets noise with a brief flurry of sci-fi synth towards the end. The static nicely runs into “COMING HOME FROM GRADUATION , PT. 1 (YEARBOOK)” a melancholic slice of piano and cello dusted in a layer of sonic detritus and skipping field recordings including some buried dialog before naturally folding in to “DRIVE ME SOMEWHERE NICE” a natural piano recording with some field recordings and additional synth adding texture to the nakedness of the piano, which while not melancholic, does have a pensiveness to and a feeling of slight despair. The synths add to the mood as if the person needs to be taken somewhere nice to alleviate their mood.
“CROSSING BORNHOLMER” refers to the crossing which was one of the first opened between East and West Berlin following the falling of the wall. Dominated by Selke’s cello, the feeling is rather grand and austere, like a significant moment in time in the protagonists life. There is a certain weight to the piece that for all of its sixty-seven seconds in length makes the piece feel a lot bigger. “INTO THE DARKER ARCHICTECTURE OF YOURS” is a swirling drone piece with record groove static and is the second epic of the album coming in at over two and a half minutes long. The drones are joined by natural piano recordings of the minimal variety before veering with the addition of synths and a drum machine into vapourwave territory. The music has a real 80’s feeling that is fused with modern classical and ambient and it works really well. It doesn’t feel this a patchwork, it just flows seamlessly.
“C IN SHOENHAUSER” is light and fragile solo piano piece (adorned by the afore-mentioned static) that comes across slightly stark in its feel. At the end of the track swirling noise takes over the end of the track before a final note stretches out a cross it. “RX” takes us once more into vapourwave territory ala Oneohtrix Point Never with its looping synth progressions that are joined ever so slightly by a complimentary synth section and the beginnings of what sounds like military drumming, but more like insistent static which is drowned out by the pulsing synth loops before they fade out.
“ME IN YOUR REAR-VIEW MIRROR (BOYS DON’T CRY)” is the albums full-blown track that finds the pianos hammers, keys and peddles joined by chimes, radiating out lower in the mix drone and static. The piano playing feels as the track progresses, that it is breaking down. It becomes less present as if in real life with someone leaving the person is originally stoic, but then break down or become despondent and close off. “D(e)AD EYES” combines spindly electronics, static and submerged and murky piano lines in its brief existence. I am not sure of the musical narrative, but I hazard a guess that the piano is for alive, bright alert eyes and as the electronics take over and the track disintegrates towards the end, that is the change to lifeless eyes.
“GRANDMAS DEATHBED, PT. V (ROXY MUSIC IN THE RV)” is a melancholy rich piano piece with the tiniest amount of detritus with a welcome return with the subtle cello, being understated, but essential. Quite a heartfelt piece that you would love to hear expanded in a grand scale. “FUNERAL FOR DAD, PT. II (IT WAS NICE TO KNOW YOU)” continues, naturally, in the mournful feel with natural piano paired with cello drones that are initially lower in the mix, but have enough presence to add to the track, before soaring a bit more into the listener’s attention. Field recordings of people talking mixed with some sort of movement (possibly water) lead into the second movement with the piano tone feeling like it has gone from mournful to a reflective one, once more joined by the subtle cello. You feel with this track that there is a narrative in process rather than just a brief glimpse and it works well.
“WE WILL NEVER COME HERE AGAIN (LAMENT)” a colorful piano piece that unlike the title does not feel that it is a sad thing. The music conveys a sense of realization, but also understanding in that things have changed and the music feels like it’s looking forwards rather than backwards. “ADVENTURE PARK” is full of hazy synth drones that soar and oscillate with a concertina like sound to them, as if you are riding on a carousel.
“SONG FOR S” I am not sure who “S” is in Linghaus’ life, but just from this brief one minute and fifteen second song it is clear that they mean (or possibly meant) a lot for him. The music is composed of slow deliberate piano playing dripping in melancholy that is thoughtful alongside the orchestral qualities of cello which adds to the mournfulness of the piece. Just before the end however, is the briefest ray of light with a small ambient section less than ten seconds long which switches the tone slightly in a more joyful tone.
“I WAS ATOMS AND WAVES” consists of bubbling electronics that float and pulse alongside detritus, buried crystalline piano sounds, breathy with the cello cutting swathes through in and out. Very loop based with the exception being the cello which changes slightly as the piece goes on. The most electronic and abstract track on the album it stands apart from the other material as it has less defined structure and could represent a more blurry memory or just something that has just a more relaxed feel to it.
“YOU IN OUR REAR-VIEW MIRROR (CEMETARY PARK)” a piano piece that is full of natural ambiance with the piano’s creaking and hammers adding to the piece, but not overpowering it. The recording of the track reveals a rich tone that is not stark, but also has a certain fuzziness to it, especially as the notes ring out. The pace of the track varies as it foes through movements where some have a feel of the protagonist looking forward and other times reflecting back. The section with long stabs of piano feels to be the most poignant and reflective part and this naturally brings the track (and the album to the end).
With this album Linghaus is not re-inventing the wheel, but he adds his own personal touch to it tempered with a real intimate and authentic feel. In a world where piano albums are becoming a dime a dozen “Memory Sketches” effortlessly ruses to the top. Recommended.
You can order the album here.