Will Gardner – ‘Remains’


A gorgeous ambient album spanning from the calming effervescence of “Blossom” to the ghostly eeriness within “Levodopa,” Remains is a striking achievement from London-based artist Will Gardner. Remains represents the debut album from Gardner, who has collaborated in the past with artists such as alt-J, Låpsley, and Daughter, contributing string arrangements.

The album’s thematic approach is a personal one, exploring the impact of dementia as a source of grieving, and also its sense of vanishment. The latter is evident in the technique Gardner employed to derive inspiration; he utilized his father’s personal diaries, using fragments to inspire the melodies and rhythms within, and then stripped away the text. The music was all that remained thereafter. As Gardner explains: “Through this process, a sort of translation occurred: the immediate meaning became lost, but an imprint of it remained within the music.”

“I became quite preoccupied with the idea of memory whilst reading the diaries and caring for my Dad (who’s own memory was faltering),” Gardner explains. “I was thinking about where memories belong, who do they belong to, what does it mean to ‘share’ a memory, and where do they go, shared or otherwise, if they are ‘lost’?”

Remains succeeds wholly in its riveting soundscapes, pairing with an engrossing thematic influence that reminds of releases from The Caretaker. A track like “Late Stage” is chilling in context, conveying a sense of vagueness in its crackling and hazy, understated tonal pursuits. This follows more expressive outputs like “The Urge To Leave,” where an audible vocal effect lingers with beautiful resonance — feeling more there. Remains is a thorough artistic success, impressing in its range from gorgeous elegance to murky intrigue.

Gardner elaborates further on the album’s tonal direction:

“Whilst trying to capture this dark and incoherent internal world that my Dad was experiencing, I noticed that I kept returning, somewhat counter-intuivately, to quite delicate, soft sounds. I realised that these sounds were like seeing my own reflection emerge within the work – my own sense of concern for what he was going through and my own grief for what was being lost day by day.”

This and other tracks featured this month can be streamed on the updating Obscure Sound’s ‘Best of November 2023’ Spotify playlist.

We discovered this release via MusoSoup, as part of the artist’s promotional campaign.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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