Memory Drawings – The Nearest Exit

Memory Drawings – The Nearest Exit

Whether by accident or design it feels apt that this third album from Memory Drawings should appear – as did 2014’s preceding There Is No Perfect Place – somewhere between the fading edge of summer and the shortening days of autumn.  Picking-up where its prequel pretty much left off, The Nearest Exit finds the Anglo-American conglomeration of Joel Hanson, Richard Adams (Hood, The Declining Winter), Sarah Kemp (Brave Timbers et al.), Gareth S Brown (Hood) taking another understated step onwards with the addition of fresh recruit Chris Cole (Movietone, Manyfingers), who adds new variables into the post-folk-meets-neo-classical equations, still seeped in rich seasonally affective ambience.

So whilst de facto leader Hanson’s hammered dulcimer playing remains a focal point across much of the album – particularly on the yearning “Your Own Worst Enemy” and the sprawling “Unknown Ending” – the bonds are loosened and opened-out even more to allow each member to rise to the surface as well as to continue gelling in the group constructions.  Hence, Kemp’s beatific violin lines envelope the mournful “Time For Something More” and “Not My Finest Hour” with gravitas and gentility brought in and shared from her Brave Timbers project.  Brown’s ostensibly solo two-part “The Slow Regard Of Silent Things” piano pieces drip with the longing of an abandoned Victorian literary romantic stuck for words.  Elsewhere, Adams’s meditative acoustic-picking underpins the plaintive “A Shining Path Of No Return” and his prowling bass-line steers the “The Light You Cannot See” into an early-Tortoise trajectory.  Newbie Cole markedly makes his presence felt throughout; notably by empathically intertwining his cello-parts with Kemp’s violin layers in key places as well as putting down intricate glimmering State River Widening-like polyrhythmic drums and percussion patterns on the likes of “There Is A Last Time For Everything” and “Subtle Transformation”.

As with There Is No Perfect Place and 2012 debut Music For Another Loss, this third Memory Drawings longer-player is bundled with a bonus set of remixes that stretch-out, deepen and deconstruct the original recordings with largely satisfying results (especially at the hands of Isnaj Dui, Robert Rich, The Declining Winter and Manyfingers) but it’s the main album itself than demands the most spins as a warming and serene soundtrack to reflective rainy and leaf-falling days.

Signal (CD) / Zozaya (vinyl)