Obsessed with memory, dream worlds, fantasies and parallel realities, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past is a transportive, mystical journey that traces the contours of a balmy, high summer night, from the muggy, red-dirt afternoons that give way to electric blue twilights, through the navy-black nights sporadically, breath-takingly lit up by the whip of treacherous forked lightning, dissolving into warm, fuzzy mornings that sit perched on the window-sill of reality, another day. Sonically and thematically, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past lives in these listless hours of liminal consciousness, a self-contained, through-the-looking-glass universe where time becomes elastic, memories blur imperceptibly into one another and seeds of deep emotional truth come to you in surreal, warped imagery.
Synthetic yet raw, polished yet organic, digital yet gritty, Annie Hamilton’s debut studio full-length hangs suspended in time, cast between a past that is irrecoverable and a future that is seemingly never arriving. Maybe this promised future will never arrive, but, then again, maybe we don’t want it to anyway – maybe we want something else. Maybe, as so many did throughout the pandemic, we would rather turn backwards towards nostalgia, elsewhere towards escapism.
Inspired by this pivot towards interiority and comfort, galvanized by the opportunity to start afresh, Hamilton decided to scrap her entire backlog at the beginning of the pandemic: demos, half-written songs, half-recorded works-in-progress all abandoned, starting over once more with a completely blank canvas and a committed willingness to get lost in a new world of her own creation. With the time and space to approach writing, recording and co-producing as a full-time occupation, and, assuming that the pandemic would not last as it eventually would, she felt it important to capture that moment in time before it flickered out ephemerally. Instead, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past hits upon something broader and more universal.
“It’s about the passing of time,” explains Hamilton, “how sometimes it flies by and sometimes it drags on forever and we’re always looking ahead wanting something more or wallowing in nostalgia, stuck in a past that probably wasn’t as good at the time as we remember it… the sense that the grass is always greener. The sense that there is never enough time to do everything that we want to do, or the feeling that we should have done more with the time that has already passed.”
Working on her own, in collaboration with co-producers Pete Covington and Jake Webb (Methyl Ethel), and featuring contributions from Jenny McCullagh and Rosie Fitzgerald (I Know Leopard), Matt Mason (DMA’s) and Luke Davison (The Preatures), the future is here but it feels kinda like the past collects little moments of emotionality, snapshots now perfectly preserved in time forever. From the record’s opening run of the warping, grandiose “Providence Portal,” through the anthemic, uplifting-yet-existential “Exist” and onto the giddy, unbound “Electric Night,” Hamilton’s ethereal vocal delivery enchants entirely with one distinct message: “come through the portal with me”.
For any soul willing to undertake that journey, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past delves into heady fantasies and daydreams that feel viscerally yet supernaturally real in numbers like ‘Night Off’ and the field-recording-rich ineffable “Interlude (A Dream),” glitching constantly, lurching its listener past flickers of far-off, colliding worlds (“Bad Trip”) and other lives (as in the lush “Again” and widescreen, dramatic number :Pieces of You,”) before sweeping you up into the uncertain, looming stratosphere with the fuzzed-out “Labyrinth” – and into the mercy of “All The Doors Inside My Home Are Slamming Into One Other,” which gently lays you down in the first sunbeams of day to rest in time for flighty closer “Whirlwind,” as the cycle begins again.
Rejecting straight-forward narrative structure in favor of pinning down hyper-specific yet universally empathetic moments, the future is here but it feels kinda like the past is a stylised-yet-grainy collage of snapshots that span a mammoth range of emotion, sound and genre, but are tied together as documentation of little human moments, full of contradiction and duality, reality as metaphor and metaphor as reality, stumbling through life and trying to make some kind of beautiful, fleeting sense of it.For tour dates and more visit: annie-hamilton.com/