Very pleased to have contributed to this album by my friend Antonymes, out now on Hibernate Recordings on CD and download, with wonderful photography by Richard Outram.
In late 2009 Antonymes released ‘Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future’ on Cathedral Transmissions of which the CD is now unavailable. Since then he has revisited the album, which has culminated a new release, ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’. Hazeldine’s own reworkings are intertwined with those of friends Ian Hawgood, Isnaj Dui, Offthesky, Field Rotation, Wil Bolton, Spheruleus and James Banbury to create an album of captivating melancholy and beauty. The guest reworkings venture into other, darker territories, where one might be harder pressed to identify the original material.
“To celebrate its 50th release since 2009, Hibernate Records could hardly have chosen any better release than Antonymes’ “There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay”.
Not only because Ian ‘Antonymes’ Hazeldine’s music seems to represent all the things the label stands for (“both abstract and melodic but always with a hint of melancholy.”), but also because the inspiration for this album came from his debut album “Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future”, which was originally released in the same year, 2009.
Re-visiting his debut album, Antonymes composed seven new tracks, and had them remixed by Ian Hawgood, Isnaj Dui, Offthesky, Field Rotation, Wil Bolton, Spheruleus and James Banbury to complete this album.
“There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay” presents the original and the remixes unpaired, so you’ll have to re-shuffle the album to hear exactly how the remix compares to the original. Surprisingly, the remixers are not credited with the exact track in the liner notes, so it’s a bit of a guess who exactly did what particular remix track. But obviously they all share the same vision with what Antonymes andHibernate stand for: the different tracks could have easily been created by one single artist.
One might be tempted to listen to the originals and the remixes as ‘true beauty’ vs. ‘decay’, but of course it’s not just that simple – since the one cannot be without the other.
‘Beauty‘ is often presented in Ian’s majestic and melancholic piano themes, while ‘Decay‘ may be found in the electronic remix deconstruction. And in the sound of worn-out vinyl grooves, which seems to re-create that familiar but not yet forgotten sound of different times.
(As far as I know, the album is available as a CD-album and digital download, and not on vinyl – but wouldn’t there be some irony in getting it on a high quality heavy vinyl pressing, to faithfully reproduce the familiar crackling sound of a low-quality worn out one?)
As the album title indicates, these ‘opposites’ are relative and cannot exist without each other.
Looking at the track titles, the decay often brings sadness:“Forever Without Hope”, “Misshapen Beauty”, “Borne of Sadness”, “The End of Everything”…
But after listening to this album over and over again, I can only conclude one thing: it’s a Beauty!” – Ambient Blog
“Featuring music that is very steeply dipped in its ambient roots, whilst at the same time offering a few experimental ideas, Antonymes present his latest album effort ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’. On the album we see Antonymes offering up the very core of ambient music in varying degrees across the length of the album. Tracks range from piano-dominated tracks to ambient washes of noise that move in and out. The whole album experience comes across as a very strong effort featuring some brilliant ideas, as well as a great understanding of ambient music.
‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’ features many of the somewhat typical ambient styles, yet it all comes across as very effective and strong on Antonymes’ part. There’s a wonderful range of ambient styles being demonstrated on ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’, all of which comes together to present one strong album experience. There’s a wonderful presentation to the album as well, where each track contains a second part, though it’s all out of order at times. Varying elements keep the listener on their toes, whilst providing them with something that easily draws them in, keeping them involved in the ideas being presented by Antonymes. There’s a delicate beauty present in some of the songs, where the instrumentals just exude emotion after emotion.
Antonymes is clearly a very talented musician, who has not just a good understanding of composition, but also of how music should be presented. It seems though that ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’ feature certain elements that don’t seem to help the song at all in any way. In particular are incredibly irritating buzzing fuzzy noises that completely detract from the experience. Although it may have been the artists intentions to use these techniques in this way or whatever, its placement on the album doesn’t seem justified, and instead it seems to just come across as annoying rather than interesting.
‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’ is certainly a strong ambient album that has many merits, but at the same time the odd flaw or two. It’s arguable that the whole album experience is a little long, but when one just lets the music inhabit the background noise, it seems justified after a while. There’s a lovely range demonstrated on the album as well, showing some brilliant creativity on Antonymes’ part. There’s a large number of enjoyable tracks as well, with enough being present on the album to present it as a very worthy ambient record. It might have one or two elements that aren’t enjoyable, but at least there’s enough great elements to make the album worthy of recognition.” – The CD Critic
“I’ve known about this release for quite some time but have kept quiet until now after it was officially released yesterday on Hibernate. ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’ sees the return of Antonymes with an adaptation of his now out-of-print 2009 album ‘Beauty Becomes The Enemy Of The Future’. A re-press of a great album is always welcome to place it in earshot of new listeners however sometimes, despite the best efforts of re-packaging it gets lost or simply left by those who already know and love it well.
With ‘There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay’, Ian Hazeldine (Antonymes) has given the album a brand new context for the here and now…Not just the standard new artwork and a bonus track or two, but he has turned the original record on its head by including adaptations from several well known artists including Ian Hawgood, Offthesky, Spheruleus, Wil Bolton, Field Rotation, Isnaj Dui and James Banbury. The identity of the adaptations are unclear and they are positioned as one alongside the main album, which allow it all to flow without the feeling of the remixes being mere bonus material. It’s as if they are as much a part of the album as the original recordings and this has the effect of wiping the slate clean and really does give everything a fresh feel.
With this in mind, There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay can rightfully be considered for selection as one of the finest new releases of the year; a breathtaking collection of recordings that you’ll come back to time and time again.” – Irregular Crates
“Beauty is evident even in the decay of things. Rust will come to claim everything, but the dilapidated, disused building on the corner of the abandoned street still creeps with the secret beauty of intruding ivy, running over its outer walls as it dances silently to the past, and a brilliant shoot of light can still reflect triumphantly through a broken mirror. In the end, you can’t stop the dust from falling over everyone you love, everyone you care about. You can only delay it or accept it.
Once pristine, the first shudder of a bass note is accompanied by a higher, gentle melody, itself a victim to the corrosive, crumbling stone of age. The piano sounds as if it is dusted with age, an old instrument that, despite its years, still revels in tranquil, slow-developing beauty. The major, minor and seventh chords are rich in their timbre, giving the music an unbelievably warm and earthy sound as the decay eats away unnoticed.
The rural, roaming flashes of pleasant, green-tinted scenery rolls in on a tired mind that secretes faded, melancholic memories. ‘Strange Light’ is a hazy, luminescent orb of ambience that undulates quietly and then begins to shake and break up towards the end. The decay can be heard corroding into the atmosphere, masked as a deep rumble that in any other situation would seem highly invasive, that which seeks to rob the skin of life, the theft that goes continually unpunished.
The autumnal brunette changes colour like the shift of the season, but the recent shoots of wispy white hair are just as beautiful a colour as the darker brown; the kind, frail smile has surrendered to the passage of time, but it shines wholesomely with beauty; true beauty. In our youth obsessed culture, true beauty is often lost or dead on arrival, buried under the camouflage of make-up and mascara. Surrendering to the natural beauty that comes with age can almost seem unusual or unnatural deep in the concrete jungle; the posters of a smiling blonde sink into the subconscious and tell you you’re doing it wrong. It’s something that’s almost against the norm, regarded by some as a taboo subject.
Like an ageing leaf waiting for death to arrive, the intense citrus flame of its final burst is as glorious as its once-healthy shade of green. ‘Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future’ was released in 2009, but Hazeldine here has revisited and re-worked the thoughtful music. He seems now to have accepted the inevitable decay of beauty – or what we may perceive as beauty – but with acceptance comes an additional layer of sadness. It is the sound of extinguished opportunity, the burning notes that echo out what the heart so desperately wanted but was unable to receive. Antonymes now treats decay not as an enemy, but as an eventual fate, something to be embraced.
Besides, beauty always renews itself. At the time, it doesn’t feel like the heart ever will recover, yet butterflies are testimony to the transformation that the heart can experience, even after the decay of things. And so, remarkably, we find that decay can heal. Where the rust eats away feverishly, avidly attacking the weakened heart like acid, so too can it seal the wounds it once so ferociously ripped open, ripped apart.
The piano coughs out the dusted age of decades; there is a very strong case to be made for instruments sounding better the older they get. The piano plays chords of beauty, but hot on the heels comes a dissonant afterthought, like the family photograph that has been over-run with thick, hanging cobwebs.
The deep, thin crackles pierce the music as the record ages, too; the way that the skin slowly creases and then folds. Ambient sheets that caress the skin fold over one another, but the melancholia of the piano is never far away.
The sound of a church organ breaks free from the piano’s process of mummification; the spider cocooning its victim in a silver wrapping. For a minute, it is the respite that we all need. Those weary heads are strained, bowed to the surge of pressure, and hands are clasped in an appeal for help. Tears trickle the side of the face, helping to wash the skin clean from the ruins of decay back to the years of free youth. In desperation, the still, resonating organ envelops the space and momentarily puts the mind, and the music, at peace.
Sometimes, a moment is all that is needed; to then get back up, and realise that there can be no true beauty without decay.” – Fluid Radio