Blacked Out Passages embodies hat terrifying moment when a band you love releases the ever-dreaded follow-up to one of your favorite records: that sharp inhale as you find it in your mailbox, and how scared you are when you put it on for the first time. These are the times that make a die-hard music fan’s life worth living.
For those unfamiliar with Lost Trail, you can read my positively glowing review of my first exposure to them, Holy Ring of Chalk on Wounded Wolf Press. It was a completely breathless work of genius that I was utterly taken aback by upon finding. A year later, Blacked Out Passages finds its way to my door step and I’m frightened. Not that I was fully expecting that the album wouldn’t be good; I’ve found nothing that has come out of Lost Trail that I haven’t liked, but that doesn’t mean that Blacked Out Passages can stand up to an album that had such a profound effect on me. Holy Ring of Chalk was brilliant; the story behind it, superb. You could sense it was one of those albums that a band just isn’t going to be able to top. One where every circumstance fell perfectly into place to align for it to happen. One that bled sincerity.
Blacked Out Passages is, by the artist’s own description, an attempt to summarize all of their sounds and influences into a shorter, more digestible album. So how does the endeavor to condense themselves fare in the wake of an improvised and organic masterpiece? Surprisingly well, it would seem.
There are less spirits haunting Blacked Out Passages — less fragments of the surroundings, but it seems that it is no less spectral, and that is what I seemingly cannot get enough of from Lost Trail. Buried within the panned guitars are these extremely emotionally charged single-note piano leads, the inclusion of which are so effective that they send shivers down my spine. Field recordings of Summer-time ambience are fitting on the 75 degree, breezy solstice night in which I write this. Fragments of hidden melody dance like little flecks and embers of campfire symphonies released into the air. I think that I have finally found the replacement which I have been desperately searching for to my beloved early David Tagg albums, before he began working in the colder reaches of space. Lost Trail effortlessly evokes the gentle wind — it’s simply who they are and where they are from. The North Carolina Summers seem to be in their veins.
One of my favorite things about the band is that they are a husband and wife team. Had I not known better, I would assume this was the voice of a single person, and that is a testament to how well they work together. I imagine it must be an incredible bonding experience to be able to work together on something that can be as emotionally stirring as music. Their connection is undeniable, as it seems is mine to their music.
Blacked Out Passages has surprised me. It isn’t as cohesive, nor as inspired as Holy Ring of Chalk, but again, I’m not sure I’ll hear anything from them I identify with as much. My love for that album will likely taint my view on all of their work, but do not let my comparison deter you. This is heartwarming, evocative, and thrilling drone; equally as capable of lulling you into a dream as it is making your hair stand on end. Lost Trail should be the soundtrack to every happy warm night this Summer, and hopefully all to follow.
01) Nothing is Real until you Put it in the VCR
02) A Parking Lot Gloaming
03) Insertion Loss / Noise Barrier
04) Rooftops / Spires / Valleys