Rolo Tomassi, Where Myth Becomes Memory
Rolo Tomassi capture reality through a frosted window – while the shapes of life are recognisable, there is an ever-present sense of unsettling safety, a dreamlike detachment. 2018’s critically acclaimed Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It embodied this frosted-glass reality, fusing together dreamy shoegaze with cuttingly raw breakdowns. Four years on, Rolo Tomassi have only strengthened their poignant fusion of dark and light; Where Myth Becomes Memory takes pain and delicately morphs it into something beautiful.
What do you do when you’re lost? It’s a question posed on the opening track and it is constantly circled back to. A sensation of loss permeates the album – losing oneself, losing others, losing sight of where life is headed. Almost Always welcomes us into this realm of uncertainty with painfully gorgeous, shoegazey inflections. There’s an overwhelming sense of calm as the existential notions unfold around you, as you fall deeper into the sonic hole Rolo Tomassi have pulled you into.
This sensation of being drawn in makes Where Myth Becomes Memory feel inescapable. Not only is the idea arguably suggested by the album artwork, with lines extending down into a black abyss, but it’s hinted at in tracks like Drip; “take my hand, let’s slip beneath the surface”. This is an album that forces you to engage in its sonic introspection, forces you to reflect on the pain explored alongside it.
A graceful tenderness constantly counteracts the pain, however. As Spence so gorgeously puts it on the enchanting Cloaked, there is a sense of “screaming on the outside looking in” – brutal screeches reflect on the cruelty of reality, before floating, ethereal vocals beg for introspection, longing for a sense of internal and external peace. Mutual Ruin is perhaps one of the finest examples on the album; harrowing, gut-twisting howls and thick, tormented instrumentals peel away, ending on a soft, vulnerable and exposed piano recording.
Vulnerable, stripped back moments are what make this album so ineffably gorgeous. This release utilises Spence’s clean vocals more than ever before, and the result is breathtaking. Closer highlights this beautifully, an endless pit of dreamy, coming-of-age-like soundscaping that absolutely shimmers. On the other end of the spectrum, Stumbling is a true stand-out due to its simple, fearful tone throughout. The track is eerily innocent, with Spence’s soft vocals echoing directly into your ear, yet there is an edge of discomfort – that childlike sense of fear, yet there’s a loss of innocence, an unspeakable pain, lingering in the background.
The heavier moments also pack a punch, of course. When Spence is growling, it’s difficult to believe that she is capable of such airy, ethereal vocals. Prescience is gruelling, sinking to its knees and begging for more. As the band all collectively howl “LET ME IN!”, you feel it in your chest – the desperation lingering in your bones.
Where Myth Becomes Memory is ineffable yet harrowingly familiar. A dull ache rings throughout, brutally sharp stings softened by floating dream-pop, a complex balancing of light and dark that is awe inspiring. Textures never clash, however – they flow into each other seamlessly, a true sign of Rolo Tomassi’s musical prowess. Moments of immense ferocity lead into tracks so fragile they could snap – yet the overall product feels strong in its vulnerabilities. Rolo Tomassi have crafted an album that touches on all elements of the human experience, with a sound that only grows in scale with every listen – a truly, truly fantastic release.
Where Myth Becomes Memory is out now.