This week marks a grim anniversary. It was just about a year ago that we hunkered down for what many of us believed would be a brief period of isolation to benefit the greater public good. We imagined these extended spring breaks to be filled with Netflix and Trader Joe's snacks, and that we would eventually emerge into a sunny April and virus-free world. How naive we were. This memory feels like a dream, so distant and blurry, and we all know how the following months really unfolded.
Attempts to summarize this period of time feel futile, but sound artist Whettman Chelmets has released a sonic yearbook of sorts. Now, it should be made clear that summary was not necessarily Chelmets' intent (he makes no mention of this on his Bandcamp page or in press materials), but his new album For... was recorded in April-June 2020, and is grouped into seasonal movements, giving it a narrative arc characterized by melancholic-to-bright textures. So perhaps this is assumption, but the album feels like a yearlong retrospective.
Whettman Chelmets, from the Artist's Bandcamp page.
Interestingly, For... begins with two fall tracks, though the album was recorded and released in spring months. These opening constructions are filled with reverb and distortion which lift when the first winter title creeps in. Winter 2 (New Year's Day) is perhaps the most accessible song here, and the clean guitar plucks give it a warm, inviting feel. Three spring tracks follow, one of which is qualified with the subtitle "The Worst in Recent Memory" which just HAS to be an allusion to these terrible days. And finally, two summer pieces close the album out with a bit of hope. Wind chimes and birdsong lead into the only words spoken on For... - a narrator (the artist himself?) casually describing his pair of dogs, the muggy but tolerable weather, and his assessment that "today is a good day."
Personally, this final minute of dialogue hit me in a rather emotional place, which was a bit of a surprise. Maybe it should have been expected after the year we've all had. In any case, the album flows together perfectly from opening tones to closing words, and perhaps like it was for me, it will be just what you need to hear. You can find Whettman Chelmets' For... through Drawing Room Records here on March 19th (mastered by experimental hero, Angel Marcloid), and preview a track below.