Lopes instructs in the liner notes to experience Love Song: Post-Ruins "alone somewhere between after 1 o'clock in the morning and 1 hour before sunrise." These are, of course, the darkest and loneliest hours when the social bustling of the day have waned, most of the world has gone to bed, and those who are left are forced to face solitude. This album, per Lopes, can be your guide.
Love Song is also an intimate album. With its meticulous development, fractured lyricism, and vulnerability, I am even tempted to call its single track a ballad, shorn of saccharine adornments and the typical verse chorus song-structure. This is the kind of ballad a musician might fortuitously happen upon only once, when navigating the doldrums of love, in that space between the hopeful surrender of oneself to the object infatuation and the despair that accompanies the realization that such surrender might not be enough. This is also raw music. It shifts between dark, abstract blues licks and contemporary explorations in resonance and sparsity. At times, it is airy and, maybe at its most exposed moments, even optimistic. At others, it bounds on hopelessness, only to partially reopen to the possibility of requited sentiments.
In that sense, this is a difficult album. It is a vast departure from Lopes' more aggressive free rock shredding and heavy sonic manipulations-upon-manipulations that have rightfully garnered praise. (His recent collaboration with Julien Desprez, Boa Tarde, comes most immediately to mind.) It also rings with a deep sincerity and emotional outpouring that, for all of its reserve and spaciousness, seems unencumbered. It hurts at points. It confuses at others. And it never offers the reconciliation that the listener simultaneously seeks but avoids, knowing it would eviscerate the song of its potency. There seems no message here beyond one person's struggle with the eternal and inescapable cyclicality of love, hope, and loss.
It is rare that avant-garde guitar music moves me like this. Given Lopes' first Love Songs release in 2016, I should not be surprised. That said, the Love Song: Post Ruins abandons the search for post-rock melodicism that balanced Love Songs' lonely angularity and is that much more effective because of it. The music is mournful and moving. It entrances. It distorts time and wrenches hearts. Or, as its release page phrases it, it expresses "an eternalized moment, full of emotions, necessarily limited by the musical performance, but infinite 'in itself'". Love Song: Post Ruins is indeed a unique artifact, in part because of this phenomenological protraction of time, emotion, and meaning. For a composition so glacial in development and played simply by a man and his electric guitar, this music has surprising depth. And, it lingers long after the last note fades.
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