Leyland Kirby: Eager to Tear Apart the Stars
History Always Favours The Winners

Eager To Tear Apart the Stars is Leyland Kirby's first full-length under that name since the 2009 release of his triple-disc opus Sadly, the Future Is No Longer What It Was (textura's choice as the number one album of 2009, incidentally). The new collection perpetuates the style of the earlier one if in more concise form; whereas the triple-set had room to accommodate tracks of twenty-minute durations, the longest tracks on the new one are half that. Admittedly, the new release is less ambitious in scope compared to its predecessor; however, Eager To Tear Apart the Stars does make for a less daunting entry point for listeners new to Kirby's decaying sound-world.

An overture of sorts for the album, “The Arrow of Time” cultivates an affectingly mournful mood in its melding of strings and electronic keyboards, with all of it darkened by the repeated punctuation of a dramatic piano chord. Kirby's use of piano as the lead melodic voice reinforces the time-weathered character of his material, while the strings and glimmering keyboards bolster its symphonic and dream-like qualities, respectively. Further to that, the music is typically coated in layers of crackle, hiss, and grime, as if to simulate music recorded a century ago that's been unearthed and once again made available to the masses. The music's melodramatic character is sometimes so overwrought, one wonders whether Kirby's being ironic in wearing his heart so prominently on his sleeve or whether he's being totally sincere (let's not forget that Kirby, who also currently issues music under The Caretaker alias, once generated audio havoc as a V/VM member). Regardless, tracks such as “This is the Story of Paradise Lost” and “No Longer Distance Than Death” play like moving elegies for ruined lives and broken spirits. The album's mood isn't entirely bereft of hope, however, as the wistful reverie that ends the album, “My Dream Contained a Star,” makes clear. Close in spirit and sound to the decrepit ballroom music Kirby released only a few months ago on his The Caretaker full-length, An Empty Bliss Beyond This World, the penultimate piece, “They Are All Dead, There Are No Skip at All,” finds gentle celeste tinkles and celestial harp strums drifting placidly down a stream of bass tones and corroded strings. At the end of the day, Kirby's music remains haunting, regardless of whether a given track's mood is uplifting or despairing.

November 2011