Our review of Motion Sickness of Time Travel’s self-titled album last year spoke to the notion of private art. How private art is, like the album, an infinitely digressive soliloquy: the mind bouncing off of itself and only itself. How far can one go when they only experience the world phenomenally? This raises problems for any reviewer, because they must question whether or not one can be influenced by only themselves and their sensuous interaction with things. Despite this, Rachel Evans has been able to grow and change, but these changes are indeed only of and for herself and from her experiences both prior and during the creation of her tracks.
It’s no secret that her tracks are largely improvisations, drafts of the mind captured in its most purely operative form. One can imagine her standing before a row of synthesizers and keyboards, eyes closed, hands gliding over the keys and knobs, fading into a world that is experienced by only her. The tracks on The Perennials are noticeably more active than her earlier work. The soundscape interacts in vaporous, whisking fashion, as if to pinpoint the exact location of each sensuous impulse. But the EP also feels less substantial than her other releases, sounding more like an experiment in construction and form than the rounded approach of her last release pushing forward to the next sound, the next idea.
And when releasing music as rapidly as Evans does, it’s hard not to think that she is sketching out a path, each release building towards the next epiphany. Like Chinaberry, The Perennials shows a focus towards a more organized form — slow buildups, a verse that releases into a climax — but these songs still sound like a documentation in progress, like blueprints for how she would actually write a song. They are too brief to be the point themselves and are too laborious in their makeup to be mere improvisational demos. This is especially the case with “The Reynard and The Vixen”: here, pulsating synth lines bob and weave around the octave-jumping screeches before releasing to a mere whisper. The buildup seems to be less of an effort to build linearly, but more of a building ideologically and platonically.
The next track, “Fogging Morning,” sounds at once like a coda of the former track and an interlude for the subsequent closer. It’s a consistent drone, with dreamy accents and low drums eventually furthering the point of arrival. And “The Chord and the Centre,” the final song, is the arrival. This track, whose title speaks to the theme of the EP’s advancement through the inner self, is the most active and forward-pushing of any of hers to date. Oscillating synth bleeps glide around the ever-present hum of a second synth, as the occasional trill glosses over the mix.
On The Perennials, Evans wants to capture the moment and then fade away before the moment expires. This is both a handy method and a questionable one — the quick fade-outs at the end of each track sometimes feel more like cop-outs than the editorial retaining of the moment. But maybe that’s her point: briefly show her essence and then hide the evidence, as though the listener had only imagined it. To be perennial is to be in search of certainty, progressing through relative space and time to a point or state of being. Although The Perennials may not be her strongest release so far, one could easily argue that Motion Sickness of Time Travel is getting better and more precise with each step in this search.