Humble purveyor of pure nostalgia and beauty Ross Gentry returns with this LP, his second album for Bathetic. This time around, the Asheville-based wunderkind of faded, weathered bliss finds inspiration in various theories of aging, a concept Gentry describes as “the ways in which elderly people adapt to and cope with the idea of approaching the final stages of life and eventually death.” But what may come off as dwelling in morbidity or depression is celebrated as an appreciation of the life cycle, more how we deal with something beyond our control. Without a doubt it can be painful and impossible to cope with, but there are fruits to these changes to be appreciated as well.
Through the track titles and sentiment of each piece, Gentry explores the life span while meditating on each rather equally. From the initial “Date of Birth” to the final “Burial Grounds,” the start and end points for everyone is here. “Date of Birth” is a peacefully solemn drift with elegant instrumentation and an unhurried urgency. The stage is set; the tone is open to interpretation. “Burial Grounds’” elegiac tones suggest willful acquiescence of the inevitable, a modest and noble acknowledgement of the end.
Gentry also touches on the blurry touchstones of age as well. “Temper of the Age” captures the curious recklessness and excited playfulness of childhood. Not understanding everything around you but immersing yourself without inhibition. It’s a scene of childhood wonder soundtracked by Stars of the Lid or Kyle Bobby Dunn. “Before Failures” recalls pure kosmische musik and Popl Vuh to portray the giddy adolescence of a world of opportunity, the scenes of your life just before adulthood; a success or failure at your own hand.
Theories’ sonic palette pulls from Gentry’s own influences, namely the stark beauty trademarked by David Lynch, the decaying melancholy of William Basinksi, and the temporal experiments of Janek Schaefer and Philip Jeck. The nostalgic tone carries throughout with a refined crew of humble stringed instruments coupled with endearing field and voice recordings. It’s an intricate affair serving as a cool-headed debate over death and loss.