Nicholas Szczepanik – We Make Life Sad

4 out of 5

Label: WeMe Records

Produced by: Nicholas Szczepanik (?)

Haunting ambient / drone compositions, evocative of, like, everything represented by the song titles and packaging – a family photo on the front, eclipsed by a fuzzy, oval frame, as though blinking through a memory; tracks named “Consciousness,” and “Nostalgia”… It’s called “We Make Life Sad,” and that’s fitting: Szczepanik shimmers through loops of faded sounds and distant, creaky, half-familiar tunes. Do we focus on those memories, and try to suss them out of the tune? And while humming that vague set of notes, trying to discern of what it reminds you, it cuts out – there’s purposefully not a smooth transition, here, it’s just time to shunt to the next memory.

This structure is mesmerizing, and actually is a vote against vinyl in this case: the act of getting up to flip the LP over ruins the spell somewhat, although the utter warmth of the backing crackle on the songs undeniably sounds great. At the same time, the sides have an element of distance baked into them: the start of both A and B loops for a while, with latter tracks bringing in more layers and sounds. So it starts very “cold,” and then you get used to the sounds, and the thoughts, and it’s all quite beautiful… but sad.

Music capable of triggering such a wave of emotions is a powerful thing indeed.