“Vestiges” began as the unspoken corollary to the strong concept album “What We Left Behind” and proves even more up close and personal. While traveling forward in his own imagination to experience the earth after human extinction, Robert Rich needed to push aside the brooding sense of melancholy and unfulfilled promise that accompanies thoughts of our own end.
Well, “Vestiges” explores those feelings without apology, finding catharsis in the melancholy that hovers behind its predecessor. Though swimming in these bottomless waters, the composer soon realized he was actually exploring something else, the question of age, decay and in particular the frailty that comes with advancement of certain age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
What initially starts out from a dense and dark place transforms slowly into a next level of emotive, organic-flavored and desolate soundscapes growing tenderer and reconciled as a kind of catharsis while facing the inevitable. It reaches a first highlight and transition on the mesmerizing intense “Spectre of Lost Light” (commissioned for performance of Forefather’s Eve in Krakow, Poland on November 15, 2016 in which Robert would participate) where things dissolve in unity in the end. Immersion is deepened again on the hypnotizing textural “Obscured by leaf Shadows” and “Equipoise and Dissolution”. Both velvet aural perfumes feel like a hallucinogenic and surreal desolate journey beyond.
Toward the end, the solitary journey we all have to make seems to dwell on effortless, descending imminently into far-off, misty borderlands and ghostly plains on “Vestiges’” final track “Anchorless on Quiet Tide”. It was no repose or release I felt at the end but a brooding vast journey of darker sonic surrealism carrying on elsewhere. It makes “Vestiges” an in-depth and most compelling listening experience for all of us confronted with reality and what lies beyond.
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