Jasper TX’s 9th and last album under the moniker, An Index of Failure.
It’s always interesting seeing and hearing what it is that doesn’t make the cut; naturally musicians create a much larger array of tracks in preparation for an upcoming release but the large majority probably dont make the final cut for whatever reason: feelings of inadequacy or non-cohesion with the rest of the album, whatever. What is particularly interesting is that Dag Rosenqvist has decided that the last record he will ever produce under this alias is one of offcuts and deadends from previous works, and it’s surprising not only how well it works but how poignant it turns out to be (hindsight or no).
We start with the aptly titled “Abandon”, a short and delicate 4 minuter and for those of us, like me (sadly) who are not particularly well acquainted with the Jasper TX sound it’s a great and poetic introduction to the album; there are Post-Rock undercurrents in the soft guitar work (something that will come on stronger later on), soft background drones and an eagerly rising stature that take the track from softly spoken beginnings to more confident endings. It’s only a short and soft burst of volume but it’s enough to dispel those feelings of worthlessness. It shift gears into what is perhaps my favourite track of the album and perhaps of this year so far in “In All Your Blinding Lights”.
I just love the name of the track, the premise it presents; “In All Your Blinding Lights”. Is it in reference to the city, the never-sleeping labyrinth of towering glass and steel? The myriad of networked roads and the cars and streetlights that populate it? Or is it more introspective, the overbearing persona of an individual. Personal interpretation comes into play of course as we are made familiar with a piece dominated by guitar-driven drone, barely moving fragments of sound accompanied by buried and processed vocal wails and moans, these organic elements merging and becoming one with the artificial sound of the underlying melodies, one with the lights. It ends starkly, the music fading quickly away to be left alone with the disjointed human moans.
We get plenty of time to mull it over as the truly Post-Rock inspired mid-album beauty “Rivers Flow” eases into existence, its 12 minute duration allowing for the opportunity to ruminate as it effortlessly gears up on glacial piano strokes. Its as slow to evolve and as apparently stationary as its namesake, the still waters in the slow main body of the watercourses and the infinite patience of Mother Nature as she slowly manipulates the landscape. Time begins to speed up as grittier electronics arrive and big drone walls begin to power the track; the humanly imperceptible but cumulative attrition of Deep Time made apparent in one cathartic surge. We are only allowed a brief glimpse, however, before the mournful and isolated piano takes the mantle back and continues its peaceful and isolated work alone; it truly is beautiful.
“A New Language” follows up with an equally slow-moving melody but one that is also inherently darker; distal rain can be heard landing and creaking the gutters while the electronica revs up and carves a vista of slightly abrasive drone, like a dark night punctuated by the smears of falling raindrops. A barely audible, lo-fi wind cuts through the noise, just barely weaving its way between and making it through the dense textures, the wind of time and change, before it too is lost and we move into closer “Days Above The Tide”, what I class as perhaps the weakest part of the album and possibly the least cohesive.
The raw acoustic guitar is a little at odds to the processed electroacoustic aspects we have seen previously but this piece is supposed to be that final optimistic closer, the shedding of doubts and worries above the high water mark as Dag lands on new musical shores away from this project. There are still strong Post-Rock vibes and admittedly it does mirror “Rivers Flow” as it strengthens to a bold crescendo of coarse drone and drums in the core of the track but ultimately it’s the most driven and yearning piece of the album, and I can’t help but feel that it’s just a tad out of place.
But “Days Above The Tide” ends eventually, its guitars and drums and drone reduced to silence and the subsequent termination of Dag Rosenqvist’s adventure with Jasper TX. This “Index of Failures” highlights something important; sometimes we make choices to cut things out of our lives, the tracks that don’t make sense in the context of our existence, and it’s possible that we may regret them, but once it’s all said and done and we come to the end of our days just like Dag has with this project I think we begin to realise possibly how trivial those decisions were in the grand scheme and how foolish we were to spend time agonising over them and languishing in regret. They aren’t failures, they’re just choices; erroneous or not, there’s never any need to add any weight to them. Normally that realisation is far too late coming.