“What is grief? Can only the sun name its layers?” So writes Edie Meidav in her lyric novel, Another Love Discourse. What the author soliloquizes through words on a page, Portland, Oregon-based electronic musician Patricia Wolf actualizes through synthesizers, algorithms, and the emotional transistor of her own throat and lungs. Written and recorded in 2020 following the loss of her mother-in-law and a close friend, I’ll Look For You In Others treats the interface of flesh and technology as a force to birth something meaningful in the wake of deaths that may feel meaningless.
These messages activate every molecule of “Distant Memory,” which in its first breaths betrays the oxymoron of its title: No matter how distant a memory may seem, it is always nearer to us than any external trigger. Memories are as much a part of us as the oxygen and neurons that complicate them, and I cannot walk through this music without feeling accompanied by the echo of a past self who knew no better than to live as if mortality were a tragic lie. Every swell, pulled from the corona of active denial, finds its way into acceptance. And yet, “The Culmination Of” reminds me of the darker times when solitude cultivates necessary mourning beyond the prying eyes of those who care a little too much. Here, as in the title track and “Severed,” the human voice sheds its communicative uniform in favor of raw expression.
It’s a stark reminder that even if we haven’t lost someone directly over the past three years, the pandemic has turned us all into targets of its burning arrows. In the eyes of a virus, there is no parsing of memories into categories to be filed until we are ready to reckon them. Rather, it destroys what it can, mutating when it can’t, and scars the skins of souls. Such is the tenor of “Funeral,” in which an organ bleeds across the floor of a chambered heart, even as the light of dawn cracks a smile through tear-stained windows. And though we are left to wander with only pieces to show for our future, “Recombination” is possible with that near-magical glue of cohesion: time.
In the same way that the absence of bodies magnifies the presence of spirits, “Lay to Rest” throws a handful of slow-motion dust onto the coffin in emphasis of the bereaved funneling its descent. And while “Letting Go” promises closure, it may just be another link in the chain that binds the living and the dead. If anything, loss is an opportunity, and an opportunity is a portal of transformation. We cannot go through Wolf’s journey without being changed, knowing that loss has sewn its threads through all of us.
To quote Meidav again: “On the wheel of feelings, is wonder the true antonym of grief?” If so, this album is a wonder of healing at a time when the world itself has been reduced to an ailing organism in more ways than one. Let it hold you close, never letting go until your cheeks are dry.
I’ll Look For You In Others is available on bandcamp here.