The Music of Fading Memories: Reviewing The Caretaker's "Everywhere at the End of Time"
By Mercedes Caldera-Perez
Everywhere at The End of Time by The Caretaker is an audible simulation of the six stages of senile dementia, also known as Alzheimer's Disease.
Leyland James Kirby under the name of (The Caretaker), demonstrates the slow distorting memories of a song, one of the last things the “patient” remembers.
As a warning, it has been said that this album has occasionally caused anxiety and depression when listening to it; this might not be the album for you if you are easily subjected to either.
This project is well known and often remade on the internet, often talked about how uneasy it makes people feel. Though what makes the horror of the album so effective is not just the way the songs become unrecognizable but also the lengths of each stage.
The six hour piece is divided into stages around 40 minutes each. Each stage is provided its own cover and name, getting darker throughout the album's progression.
Stage one, “A1 - It's Just a Burning Memory” (Daydream). The cover is represented by a roll of what looks like paper, a clear subject. Different old songs are played in the background of record player static, generally clear and peaceful. Representing the first stage of dementia, nothing out of the ordinary takes place, a simple and peaceful track appearing as if nothing is wrong. The song first sampled in this stage is “1931 Heartaches (Al Bowlly, vocal)” by Sid Phillips and His Melodians.
Stage two tilted “A2 - A losing battle is raging” (Denial). The cover of stage two shows a misshapen flower pot holding the last few pieces of life it has to give. The sound of the songs get just a bit more distorted, the peaceful vibe of the first stage is brought down. The deterioration of the music brings a sort of awareness of something that might be wrong, as the looping fuzziness gets louder. In some cases the fuzz is gone but the music sounds like it's playing in another room, slowly leaving the patient's head.
Stage three, “A3 - Late afternoon drifting” (Reality). The cover of stage three shows a painting with no clear subject. The quality of the music in this track shows one of the last clear moments of memories before they become unintelligible in the flood of interruptions. Something is very wrong but there's nothing you can do but listen.
Stage four named “A4 - Post Awareness Confusions” (Rupture). The cover of stage four holds a blurred statue of a person. Only a few memories are left to be remembered while all others are completely lost as the music is almost completely drowned out, the leap of a clear memory to complete disruption is startling. There are few clear seconds left of music that can be picked from the chaos. Sometimes there's violent spikes in static before calming again, it's so isolated now that there is little to nothing that can help.
Stage five, A5 - Advanced Plaque” (Horror). The cover of stage five shows another statue with many different shapes melted together, everything being hard to separate from one another. With this continued advancement into nothingness there is something hard to remember about the previous music. The songs aren't completely removed but become faint, an unfamiliar sound with a familiar feeling. The music quality is like a radio left to drown in violent waves, something you know is there by its sound but it's becoming too far to reach.
Stage six, “A6 - A confusion so thick you forget forgetting” (‘ ’). The cover of stage six is a piece of cardboard with tape in place of where a picture could have been hung. The faint familiar sound of the record player is still in place with little to nothing to keep it company. Any straw of hope has been taken away. There are short moments of silence or sometimes music that tries to be something cohesive. It's become almost peaceful, now there's almost nothing to remember, nothing to worry about. A moment of silence is what closes out the project.
Everywhere at The End of Time is an extremely well made project that tells its story in an effective way. This representation of a situation that can be hard to explain is executed in a way that is easy to understand, in a way that's more effective than words.
If there isn't an issue with the warnings mentioned earlier I would highly recommend checking out this project even if you skim through it, as well as any other pieces made by The Caretaker.