Sometimes life feels like it’s stuck behind glass. Sitting in the window, rain softly running down, watching major events and passages of nothingness all in the same breath, passing by unaffected by this solemn existence. touchless beautifully meditates on the grief that comes with overwhelming loss and the loneliness of being forgotten by a world in constant motion.
Slow-moving piano chords begin and end the album, lamenting on the oppressive stillness that sits stolidly inside the haze of sorrow. “Arcto 1” moves between empty spaces, permeated with the weight of past emotions that propel us forward. Each note hangs afraid in the air like a lost child longing for a familiar embrace. Evans never shies away from the enveloping sadness but clutches it to hold the glowing moments as fuel to reach beyond the conscious veil. Repetition becomes a solid, yet still meandering surface to grasp throughout opener “Arcto 2,” as if Evans is drifting above, watching his own experience from a distance.
Beyond the comfort that exists within touchless’ ambient walls is a determination. The title track gently grinds away at the mourning paralyzation with Tristen Kasten-Krause’s upright bass and David Lackner’s saxophone both adding texture resembling points of light cracking through the mountain’s surface. Layers intersect, Evans remaining the stable constant as Kasten-Krause and Lackner move around each other, looking for a path that moves ahead but still has enough room to bring all this baggage along for the ride. This tension between moving on and hanging on is present throughout touchless, Evans determined to always remember, but also break free.
touchless is deeply moving. At times, the heaviness of it all is brutal, but throughout Evans finds passages of momentary relief and lightness. The lilting piano notes on “Firn,” each at a different volume that create a soft, hypnotic embrace offering a safe place to rest before diving back into darkness. Loss and grief are universal experiences that are also unique and intimate. The journey through that crushing fog changes us, but it doesn’t have to define the rest of our existence. Matt Evans’ reflections on holding that grief close and growing around it to travel somewhere new saturates touchless. Like the circular structure of the album, bookended by “Arcto 2” and “Arcto 1,” we can’t go beyond without remembering the path that got us here.
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