Concealing a Trace of Exile: a lush ambient soundtrack for the decline and fall of Western civilisation

Lilac Pavilion, Concealing a Trace of Exile, Australia, Vienna Press, Keys to the Field 032, cassette (2019)

Here is a work of sweeping dream-like sonic scenes of nature past its prime and gradually and inexorably heading on a downward trend into disintegration, to be reclaimed by the soil that birthed it. The music is rich and lush, hypnotic and redolent already of the forces of deterioration and decay. The mood appears resigned and nostalgic, looking back to a romanticised past that in all likelihood never really existed but has been made glossy because the future promises only decline and the encroachment of death.

The music is much more powerful than you might expect but its power is of an empire that has seen much better days and which is still living off its stores of wealth, though that wealth was acquired long ago and is slowly losing value. Decadence and fatalism have become its lifeblood, its inhabitants know no better or no other and perhaps believe the path chosen was determined long ago by long-forgotten gods. Sadness and longing pervade tracks like “Tinted Lidless Eyes”, made beautiful in their sorrow. Sometimes proceedings can seem heavy-handed and a bit overdone on tracks like “The Corridor” and “Realize” – this is a problem sometimes found on music of a static nature that paints a scene in layers of sound and drone. The mood on the last couple of tracks is a little more uplifting and positive, as if accepting of the change that must come, but the music is much more abrasive, noisy and even harsh and demonic in sound.

The decline and fall of nature and the world we know need a fitting soundtrack, one that is luxuriant and complicated, even contradictory, in its being; a soundtrack that captures the rich decadence of civilisation as it becomes degraded and violent; a soundtrack at once majestic and dignified yet brutish and at times vindictive. Lilac Pavilion has already done it.

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