Each passage on Ann Eyserman’s beguiling and transformative debut album, For Trainspotters Only, is a reminder that all sound is just vibrations, and no matter the timbre or cadence, on some base level, they are drawn together with an elemental affinity. Eyserman’s combination of harp and train recordings seems contradictory on the surface, but in the opening minutes of “Prelude For Four Diesel Locomotives And Harp,” when whichever of the four locomotives from the Belgian Train World Heritage fires up its engine, an unexplored world opens up connected by the train’s low hum and the delicate flickers of Eyserman’s harp.
Eysermans extracts a grand vision from a granular idea lodged in the frequencies that underlie and permeate everything. On the prelude and main event of “Four Diesel Locomotives And Harp,” a transformational fog encases the sonic expression in an industrial, impermeable haze. Locomotives purr like rusted dragons with their eyes closed, moving by feel rather than sight. Eysermans turns the glitter tones of her harp into a golden waterfall that illuminates the oppressive darkness. Together these elements are revelatory; a dichotomy of solidarity and togetherness.
Textures become focal points in both the loudest and quietest moments of For Trainspotters Only. “Little One” takes rising chord progressions, pressing them into a sparkling night sky. As a music box melody plays, we lie on our backs elevated and moving gently along the rails, letting the world wash away. When the moment fades and the city lights beckon, a forlorn accordion greats the engine’s stoic crunch and we disembark with eyes on the road beneath us. Following on with the title track, Eysermans’ voice cuts through the desolate roars like a warning light against the shore. Chimes echo against concrete walls; the percussive glances sound like ghosts trying to escape from the other side, but the world is already haunted enough.
For Trainspotters Only is the deepest of dives into an unfamiliar world that ends up finding universal touchpoints and connections. Eysermans’ tangled compositions follow unexpected points but thread deeper sonic roots to weave new interconnected paths. There’s a romance to it all, the trains, the journey, the way these explorative ideas are buoyed by the smallest sounds together. There is hope yet as long as we don’t miss it when it’s time to depart. For Trainspotters Only is stunning.