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Antonymes ~ The Gramophone Suite

Written by on 09.10.2023

After six years away, Antonymes (Ian M Hazeldine) returns with the sublime The Gramophone Suite, a meditation on time and its many permutations.  The gramophone is evoked with the album’s opening sounds: clicks, breath, strings and distant transit.  When Black Box Recorder’s Sarah Nixey intones, “you’re listening to me coming out of silence,” one assumes she’s talking about Hazeldine, although a different Ian, Ian Curtis of Joy Division, is mentioned in the liner notes.  As the piece unfolds, one realizes that it also refers to a song and the echoes of a song, the dead brought back to life as their music is played, the gramophone operating as a medium.  “Alone in a song,” Nixey concludes.  “He vanished like a star.”  But deep in the album, time’s arrow swings in reverse: the trumpet eulogy of “Coming Into Silence,” time folding back on itself, the choir still humming, notes falling like flowers on a grave.

The same shuffling can be seen in the four-part title track, which begins with the third part before heading to the first and second; the fourth waits later in the set.  Gentle rain falls before the piano plays, setting the mood.  The music is patient, measured, sedate.  Even when a light electronic beat appears in “i,” the mood remains reflective, rising from the couch only in the final minute of “ii.”  By the time “iv” hits, the suite has gained wisdom and grace, the notes just a bit brighter, as if an acceptance has kicked in.  If one turns to “A Beginner’s Guide to the Past” for an explanation, one will find only swift, confident piano melodies, suggesting that the key to the past may be gratitude rather than rumination.  Antonymes closes the set with “Remember Me,” a track that contains the clearest, sharpest notes, like memories honed, polished and preserved.  Electronics bubble up at the end, a playful touch that cuts through the mourning like a well-placed anecdote.

You’re listening to me coming out of silence, coming back to life.  One imagines the needle on the gramophone record: captured voices released, for as long as the music spins, diamond revealing something greater than diamonds before returning to its cradle.  Now Hazeldine too is locked in plastic grooves, never fully gone, only waiting for the next resurrection.  (Richard Allen)

Antonymes returns with “The Gramophone Suite,” a reflective album on time and its various manifestations, featuring Sarah Nixey.

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