Whettman Chelmets’ ‘Long Read Memories’ is a cathartic look back at a tragic event and its repercussions.

 

Joplin, Missouri’s Whettmen Chelmets has had a weight on his shoulders for most of his life. When he was a child, decades ago, his family life came crashing down when his brother was convicted of murder at the age of 17. Not only was he shocked to know how a member of his family had hurt others, but he was also deprived of a sibling; his brother is currently serving a life sentence. So much time has passed, but for Chelmets the pain has never completely left him. And he hasn’t stopped loving his brother either. In his own words, he describes this complex feeling:

He has grown. He is almost 50 now. He has facilitated the healing and dialogue of victims of crime with offenders. He is a Buddhist. He is still a juvenile life without parole offender, regardless of US Supreme Court rulings to the unconstitutionality of this sentence without consideration of age. We talk on Saturdays. We write. We share music and shows we are watching. I enjoy these talks.

Long Read Memories is a sonic tapestry of tragedy’s lasting influence. An almost entirely instrumental album, it doesn’t reveal any details about the crime, or anything else for that matter. What it does do is convey a range of intense emotions, from despair, to stress, to moments of rage and frantic fear, and yes, slivers of hope as well. These are channeled through an array of guitars, synths, and software, with field recordings and sampled dialogue added throughout, which fill the album with vague clues to news reports, conversations, and occurrences. There’s no puzzle here to figure out, but the album still requires your attention to be fully appreciated, its themes too strong and overshadowing for you to hear it without considering them.

Released October 11, Long Read Memories is available digitally and on CD via Bandcamp, and on limited cassette via Aescape Sounds. It features mixing and mastering from Angel Marcloid, who has gained attention recently through their Fire Toolz moniker.

 

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