By Björk Óskarsdóttir
Tim Linghaus offers a rare peek at someone's private memories. As a whole, well-rounded artwork, Linghaus achieves well his aim of painting aural images of his past, the way he lived it.
Memory Sketches was released on March 30 on Schole Records and 1631 Recordings. It is the composer's first album since his EP, Vhoir, released in 2016 on Moderna Records. Tim Linghaus has been very vocal about the concept behind the album. Such detailed descriptions might be more common for visual arts exhibitions, but in this case, it's the listener who does receive a lot of information on this project. One can't help but notice how the concept is immensely important to the composer – understandably.
The tracks' titles are generally as straight-forward as the title of the album itself – there is not much ambiguity in the music's presentation. The album is divided into four chapters: disappear, before, icarius and regret, which brings out a narrative.
Growing up in East-Germany during the 1980's, Linghaus puts some specific memories into tones, but rather than pushing fragments into simple categories of unsubtle or too “literal” moods, he allows the listener to take the position of an observer. The images spring to mind naturally, we are taken along the revisit of events without being forced to a conclusion on what to make of them. Nonetheless, it's clear that we are presented with crossroads, historical oddities, death and other unavoidable subjects of human life.
The combination of instruments is one known to the genre, but the impression is that Linghaus mostly chooses his tools for sounds carefully, with the aim of creating his aural images exactly as he imagines them and making them fit his memories. The piano plays the main role, there are strings, synths, and a lot of extra noise adding up to somewhat of an ambient, dream-pop effect. A warm cello sound, recorded by Sebastian Selke for some of the tracks, adds a nice touch. Some beats and synth-arpeggios are notable as a direct reference to the 1980s scenario, while most of the tracks carry an air of tranquil or sombre simplicity.
Most artists undoubtedly draw inspiration from their memories in some form, openly or not. Linghaus, on the other hand, has chosen to make a study of them and to invite the world to tag along with him on an interesting field trip to the subjective and intangible. As Linghaus mentions himself in an accompanying video on his site, the album is therapeutic, a dialogue with the former self, and an attempt to preserve his past.
While simplicity can be tricky to manage, Linghaus carries it well through an interesting, well thought out and beautifully honest first album.