Ambient dream-pop duo Memoryhouse’s re-release of 2010′s EP The Years is not only a new and improved recording, but allows for a physical issue (on CD and vinyl) of the EP, which drew so much critical acclaim, to finally come within our grasps.
Re-released on Sub-Pop, with Memoryhouse’s Evan Abeele re-recording and mixing alongside Daniel Gray, it retains the same appeal as its shorter predecessor, which last June we found captivating and humbled in its “lush, often glacial instrumentals and tender melodies”. Though there are sparse changes, which are perhaps so minuscule in places they seem unnecessary, this tweaking and teasing of original recordings presents a more slumbersome reincarnation of The Years; with tempos reduced and pulses dropping everything ebbs with a pause, perhaps then why original closing track ‘The Waves’ with its persistent beat, is left absent.
This time around with an additional two tracks featuring; ‘Modern, Normal’ and ‘Quiet America’; and a retained oscillation throughout which perfectly captures and marries emptiness and isolation with warmth and comfort, composer Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion do not wallow in pity, but rather propose a dreamlike sort of escapism that is often tragically, though always beautifully nostalgic.
Soft pulsing beats shape ‘Sleep Patterns’ and alternately shuffle and stutter through ‘Modern, Normal’ amidst its fuzz of chattering sound recordings. While the haunting ‘Lately’, sampling Jon Brion’s ‘Phone Call’, (famously featured in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) enhances its elegiac qualities with a more lethargic tempo, lilting piano and Nouvion’s ethereal vocals. It is left for ‘Quiet America’ to close; a stark and honest appeal of strong vocals and piano which are comfortably bound in Abeele’s layered swirls of sound which fade-out feeling evermore dreamy and distant.
An ambivalent collection of emotions are boxed up in this short listen, yet enclosed is something nostalgically peaceful. And if you can’t see the need for the minute rearrangements The Years still comes off as near faultess slice of ambient shoegaze inspite of tireless tweaks.