Review: Komare – Grace to Breathe That Void (Penultimate Press, Jun 12)

It was sad news last month when London deconstructed rock trio Mosquitoes announced they’re closing up shop, issuing the Outlines / Infinity Fault 7″ on Digital Regress as their final recording. How good those two tracks are alone makes a non-negligible dent in the gaping vacuum the legendary project left, and less than month later there’s an even more expansive step forward in this resolutely singular realm of avant-garde music, one that, at least for now, isn’t an endpoint. But, much like Peter Blundell and Dominic Goodman’s previous material as Komare, there is plenty of “end” throughout Grace to Breathe That Voidand, in fact, “end” is even more apropos, because the tape’s title is taken from Ill Seen Ill Said, one of The End author Samuel Beckett’s later prose works. This connection isn’t necessarily new, either; I brought up Beckett in my review of the duo’s LP The Sense of Hearing, not due to any explicit link but because there are very few, if any, other comparisons to make when artists venture this far into the nothingness.

Ill Seen Ill Said is full (empty?) of the near-subjectless ontological meditations for which the late author is renowned, but it tellingly begins with humanity, however removed, a “she” that both exists and observes: “All this in the present as had she the misfortune to be still of this world” (7). Similarly, Grace to Breathe That Void never leaves the human nor the human-adjacent completely behind, even as it burrows deeper and deeper into total abstraction. Blundell’s vocals are the most purely textural they’ve ever been, curling in from the corners of the left and right channels like creeping shadows, conversing with and fending off queasy timbral twinges and errant ambience. Birdsong also plays a curiously prominent role, its trembling presence emphasizing the wrongness with which these disparate pieces of familiarity are sewn together. The third unnamed track, though the briefest, is also one of the most succinctly atmospheric, smearing something that was once concrete into ephemeral rays of sickly light, now evoking the scraping shovels of metaphysical graverobbers or the desperate rattling of a cosmic cage. And in a (perhaps unsurprising) final twist, the arguably optimistic closing of Ill Seen Ill Said, from which the titular phrase comes—“No. One moment more. One last. Grace to breathe that void. Know happiness” (59)—is subverted in favor of harrowing, delirious monotony… Grace to Breathe That Void. No happiness.