Richard Sears new album Appear to Fade creates an ambient world where music and tape effects swirl around. It can be as macro as travelling through space or as micro as dust motes hanging in a shaft of sunlight. It’s his first release for Figureight Records who have the excellent remit on their website that says they are “a home for interior, shy, and hidden works, celebrating musicians rare, weird, and unique.”
Appear to Fade is made in collaboration with Ari Chersky who was involved in the development of the project by working with magnetic tape loops and analog production tools to help shape the unique world the album creates. As a pianist and composer Sears would improvise pieces which would then be collated, edited and treated to an array of techniques such as tape looping, distortion and disintegration. Anyone familiar with William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops will know how hypnotic this type of process can be.
The piano sits at the core of the tracks. On tracks like ‘Flotsam’ and ‘Manresa’ it crinkles away like a haunted music box or a battered player-piano trying to become sentient. On ‘Tulev’ is sounds like the piano is melting whereas on ‘Dolorous Interlude’ and ‘What I Meant to Say Was’ the piano is much more in the foreground like a modern take on Debussy or Erik Satie.
Sears and Chersky have created creases and wrinkles in time and space, and found the beauty in imperfection and elements of chance. Like walking through an abandoned building feeling the ghosts of its past, these are compositions from a half-glimpsed world that, while fading and decaying, become something new. It is dreamlike and exquisite and allows your mind to wander between introspection and the far horizon. It’s just unsettling enough to keep your mind trying to unravel the entwined sounds but still beautiful enough to offer a sense of calm and tranquillity.
Review by Paul F Cook