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Remember Remember - Forgetting The Present

"Forgetting The Present"

Release date: 30 June 2014
8.5/10
Remember Remember Forgetting The Present
23 June 2014, 11:30 Written by Chris Lo
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To these ears, there’s no doubt – listening to Remember Remember becomes a more pleasurable experience with every album. It’s just tricky to explain exactly why. Between the Glaswegian instrumentalists’ self-titled debut, made back when RR was just Graeme Ronald and a collection of loop pedals, through its 2011 follow-up The Quickening and now the woozily-titled Forgetting The Present, it’s impossible to pin down any revelatory moments of self-discovery. Although Ronald’s sound has been thickened by an expanded roster of players in the intervening years, the master key – lush instrumental pieces that gather and swell as new melodies and textures join the loop – has largely kept its shape between then and now.

Where many bands chop and change in search of their moment, for RR it’s been an iterative evolution, with a sense that each album is chiselling ever closer to the music Ronald has been humming in his head from day one. It’s not so much that each album sounds better than the last – although in terms of production that’s certainly true – rather, with each release Remember Remember sound more like themselves. To borrow some unnecessarily constitutional language, this is a band in constant search of a more perfect union.

Forgetting The Present shares all the essential DNA of its precursors; thick waves of emotive guitars, piano and synth are punctuated by lovely melodic through-lines and delicate trickles at the top end that, in their fragility, make the big sounds even bigger. But each element feels more in-synch than ever before, from the chilly, Tubular Bells-referencing flow of opener “Blabbermouth” to the final strains of echoing electronics on “Frozen Frenzy”, the distant but soothing lullaby that closes the album.

Keen-eared fans will hear the continuance of RR’s evolution – the joins of the songs, totally exposed on 2008’s loop-heavy Remember Remember, are by now barely noticeable, with tracks flowing naturally from one movement to the next, their inner workings hidden behind a far more polished end product. “La Mayo” opens with a loping bassline and plaintive woodwind melody, building to crescendos by amping up the backing behind the melody to create a rush of intensity without actually changing the central refrain at all.

The album also continues RR’s trend towards longer, more substantial pieces that allow for elements to rise, fade and return without any hurry. Tracks like “Magnets” and “Why You Got A Blue Face” flirt with the dirge-like musical heritage of Rock Action label bosses Mogwai, but bend into beautiful new forms with an agility that speaks to Ronald and co.’s growing confidence as composers and musicians.

And lest we forget, there are frequent reminders of the band’s power to evoke, most obviously displayed on the album’s shortest and most vivid track “Pterodactyl”, which brilliantly interlocks skipping piano, keyboard and melodies ripped straight from the golden age of Sunday morning jazz to paint a wonderfully optimistic picture. Perhaps it’s meant to soundtrack the carefree soaring of the titular prehistoric beast, but to me it somehow brings to mind the cheery industry of the 1950s New York of my imagination (personal interpretations may vary). The colourful “Purple Phase”, meanwhile, sees the band finally get as creative with rhythm as they’ve always been with melody, the drums opening with tribal earthiness before settling into a dancey skitter on a second half that’s reminiscent of Errors, another Rock Action label-mate.

It’s a pleasure to join Ronald and the gang on their infinite quest for perfect expression, because listening to the songs allows us to discover along with them. The band’s subtle tinkering lays them open to accusations of repetitiveness, but behind the sumptuous material there’s a fierce sense of intent, some far-off perfection to shoot for. Actually achieving that perfection is beside the point, but Forgetting The Present is the latest and most perfect union of Remember Remember’s distinctive blend of styles. Expect that record to stand for as long as it takes for their next album to appear.

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