Limited Edition 180g LP
Ultra Clear & Baby Blue Colour In Colour vinyl.
Color board inner sleeve.
CD Digipak of Internal Return Remixed, With remixes by Rafael Anton Irisarri, Sivash Amini & Terence Hannum.
A wordless play on words, a heavily atmospheric drone, a groaning pun, a violently expressionist klezmer violin solo, a tale as old as time and yet as new as space: Internal Return is an album that in the act of giving something meaning also prompts us to evade it, to turn around it, to see a smile in a scowl and a scowl in a laugh. Interdisciplinary artist Nicol Eltzroth Rosendorf playfully explores that quicksand site where maybe things are not as they seem, the internal fountain of creativity from which interpretation itself emerges. It is not a comfortable place to be in, at least not exactly; like being adrift in an imageless dream, it produces monsters of a kind that, once they are receding into memory, we get the sense they were not actually terrifying, just... strange.
The internal return is thus an experience of being anxiously stuck in a place that cannot stop shifting, like the “Olah (Burnt Offering)” with which the album begins, wherein Daniel Hoffman’s (Davka, Ute Lemper, Klez-X) violin and Ben Bertrand’s clarinet beautifully surge with melancholic energy as depth-charge electronics and guitars suddenly and repeatedly detonate beneath – a rhythm that seems to transcend timelines. Like a furious, yet frail guiding voice in a void, the music treads a path that you cannot follow, one that arbitrarily narrows down, twists and turns whenever you’re certain you have it right. The root of the term anxiety, after all, is related to constriction, to feeling like everything collapses upon you, an apocalypse in miniature that does away with that solid outside, leaving only the droning vagueness of our inside.
Our insides, however, are but the result of all the worlds that have already ended time and again, once upon a time. Rosendorf’s Jewish heritage informs the album’s themes as that lives-long tapestry of tales and memories that in seeming to make meaning clear are actually further entangling the threads within: less History, more myth. “Cohen” weaves a multitude of swirling electronics, William Ryan Fritch’s trembling cello, and re-purposed vocals from Jarboe’s (Swans, World of Skin) contribution to Nicol’s Big Other (2020), sounds that knit each other into dense, layered bundles. Nonetheless, sometimes they also puncture the soundscape’s surface, letting us listen in to even more layers, even more threads, a vertiginous kaleidoscope of stories expanding through the past and converging into the here and now. Constriction through eternity: our insides are not ourselves, they are the ever-collapsing stories of others.
The acute strangeness of not recognizing what should be most easily recognizable to oneself reaches its peak here, and Internal Return begins again, slightly changed. The album plunges into the void, not for us to get lost, but for us to find a way. The path through the album’s 10 pieces can be harsh, filled with low, crackling drones, sparse instrumental sections, and swerves into noise, the dizzying signs of stories that cannot be interpreted, that have no beginning and no end, that definitely mean something but offer no way of knowing what. In wondering we only wander towards more quicksand, our scowls turning to smiles turning to sobs turning to laughs. Because the chaotic stitches of a history of trauma – exile, sacrifice, Holocaust – in which individuals drift through the looking-glass of family inheritance, is also the horizon of renewal, in which things never stay the same, in which meanings are always shifting around, in which we look back and see that the narrow pathway was always pretty big, as far as narrow pathways are concerned. The very last track, “Immer Besser”, featuring Greg Fox (Litvrgy, Ex Eye), throws a slow lifeline for listeners to follow, a layered drone that returns to the beginning’s themes, a fading star now suddenly supernova. The title is, as Nicol says, "German for 'Forever Better.'" He adds: “If only.”
Suddenly, we are no longer stuck, but floating; suddenly, we find bits of ourselves in the stories of others; suddenly, we can see the outside again. It’s already dark, but it doesn’t matter – you have a strange sun growing inside, and there’s nothing new under it.
released June 9, 2023
MASTERED–RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI AT BLACK KNOLL STUDIO.
DANIEL HOFFMANN SELF-RECORDED IN TEL AVIV.
SHANNON MULVANEY & JIMMY DEMER RECORDED AT RCRD STUDIOS ENGINEERED BY DAN DIXON.