Hendes Bregneøjne: an inner world of nostalgia within repetitive looping piano minimalism

øjeRum, Hendes Bregneøjne, Russia, Perfect Aesthetics, AEST-040 limited edition cassette (2019)

Yes, on one level this is mournful minimalist piano-loop repetition which won’t suit a lot of people but what makes the basic repeating-piano-melody structure work is the additional music and ambience the Danish artist/musician øjeRum embellishes each track with: in the spaces between each plaintive tone of the melody, you can sense nostalgia for past times, people, places and experiences now out of reach, perhaps forever. The hissing (which might suggest steadily pouring rain outside a window during a grey day on some pieces) and sighing in those spaces, where an eerie organ might keen away quietly in its own corner, voices mutter and people in the background are passing dishes around, oblivious to the lonely fellow picking out a tune on the piano in another far corner, maintain a sense of isolation. On some tracks, where the rain seems to be really heavy outside and the air is thick and dank with excess humidity, the piano tones acquire a broken-down, perhaps even decaying quality.

I realise I’m already deep down – this is the next level – in this world of grey cloudy skies hanging over scenes of endless blocks of grey suburban concrete residential buildings, each and every block separated by straight asphalt roads intersecting at right angles, giving the appearance of perfect machine societies, but where few people venture out of their concrete cocoons. Everyone is in their own cocoon clone, watching the same TV programs that perhaps they have all seen before or the plots of which they can predict the climaxes and endings for because they have seen these narratives played out repeatedly in the past with different sets of actors. The life of this world must have ebbed away some time ago and everyone is now repeating the actions they learned then but with no new energy or zest. If things slowly start to break down, degrade or go mouldy, the will is lacking to repair them. The hiss continues, the organ drones away seemingly without beginning or end, the piano is still rather tentative and fragile in its playing, and now something in the background starts to creak annoyingly at regular intervals.

I sound as though I’m turning grey and drained of life and being myself by ensconcing myself in this apparently dreary world but curiously, as this album continues, the sonic landscape acquires a rich textural quality, the piano melodies in their own way reveal a plaintive, frail beauty and I can feel some connection with the people living their lives in their clone apartments. On the surface, things look monotonous and repetitive, drained of energy, but scratch away the surface and life, though cautiously looking through, is present in its myriad ways. Everyone might repeat or copy one another but they don’t necessarily do so in the same ways and the results may turn out differently from one another.

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