By Gary Chapman
Albums are usually compilations of mostly unrelated songs by the same artist. Sometimes you will get an album like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” that tells a story. But you never see ones that tell an overarching story over six albums, right? Wrong, today we are going to be looking at the six-part magnum opus that is Everywhere at the End of Time.
The album is by The Caretaker, a project by Leyland James Kirby. Leyland started making music under The Caretaker in 1999 with Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom. He was inspired by the end scene of Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining. The Caretaker’s most famous work before this is 2011’s An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, which is based on a study about how people with Alzheimer’s remember music. Everywhere at the End of Time follows a similar style.
The album is about a person going through dementia represented through sampled and manipulated 1930s ballroom records. The album started in 2016 and finished in 2019. The album’s first track is A1: It’s Just a Burning Memory. The track is a slowed down and looped version of Al Bowlly’s 1931 cover of “Heartaches” where the title comes from the line “Your kiss was such a sacred thing to me/I can’t believe it’s just a burning memory”. The track loops the first 40 seconds that are slowed down and filled with reverb; when the track stops and shows how big the room is. This is to show that the cavern is big, which is how the brain is throughout early dementia.
Stage 2 is the “realization” phase and is more depressive-feeling. Stage 3, and the track “And Heart Breaks”, is the last stage before the “Post-Awareness Stages”. It goes from coherent but distorted tracks from Stage 1, 2 and 3 to distorted horror for Stages 4-5. The track goes from song lyrics to the stages of dementia. The tracks also go from two to three minutes to 20 minutes.
Each one is described on the Bandcamp page, with Stage 4 being described as “Post-Awareness Stage 4 is where serenity and the ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror. It’s the beginning of an eventual process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition, and rupture.” Five is described as “Post-Awareness Stage 5, confusions and horror. More extreme entanglements, repetition and rupture can give way to calmer moments. The unfamiliar may sound and feel familiar. Time is often spent only in the moment leading to isolation. “
The last album, Stage 6, is left with the description “Post-Awareness Stage 6 Is without description.” This album is the last album under The Caretaker name as the last track “R1 – Stage 6 Place in the World Fades Away” signals the end of the Caretaker.
The art for the albums also depicts the feeling that the albums depict. The shapes look familiar but are distorted, just masses.
The album is a great work from Kirby, and while he is done with The Caretaker alias, he is still making music under a plethora of other aliases. The album is available on Bandcamp and the whole thing is uploaded on YouTube. There are also physical releases on Vinyl and CD.