The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stages 4-6 4xCD (HAFTW 406CD)
Compiling the last three albums in the Everywhere At The End Of Time series — four CDs and almost five hours of material cataloging the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that he first stepped into with 1999’s Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom. Invoking Jack Nicolson‘s caretaker character in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King‘s The Shining as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, six-CD boxset Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher, aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of hauntological art — a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues. By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the second decade of the second millennium, The Caretakerperfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal‘s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s An Empty Bliss Beyond This World onwards, the project crystallized as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.