welcome to my shrine for THE CARETAKER (1999-2019)
The revolving bandstand
- Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom (1999)
- A stairway to the stars (2001)
- We’ll all go riding on a rainbow (2003)
- Theoretically pure anterograde amnesia (2005)
- Additional amnesiac memories (2006)
- Deleted scenes / forgotten dreams (2007)
- Persistent repetition of phrases (2008)
- Recollected memories from the Museum of Garden History (2008)
- Recollections from old London Town (2009)
- FACT Mix 45 / The Caretaker (2009)
- The complete digital collection (1996-2008)
- An empty bliss beyond this World (2011)
- Patience (After Sebald) (2012)
- Extra Patience (After Sebald) (2012)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 1 (2016)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 2 (2017)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 3 (2017)
- Take care. It’s a desert out there… (2017)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 4 (2018)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 5 (2018)
- Everywhere at the end of time - Stage 6 (2019)
- Everywhere, an empty bliss (2019)
Moments of sufficient lucidity
the Caretaker sound begins as ghostly haunted tearoom waltzes, drawn very directly from the mood of The Shining's finest 10 minutes. The original trio of albums is sometimes called the Ballroom Trilogy, but later albums also have this sound (Persistent Repetition, Empty Bliss, and EATEOT especially). I feel that Stairway's sound is actually more influenced by Carnival of Souls, which is wonderful, and has an iconic organ soundtrack.
Starting from 2005, his interest turned to altered neurological states relating to memory. Theoretically Pure has a much more abstract "dark ambient" mood to earlier albums, and this guise also appears on Take Care and EATEOT. The Patience albums were made for a film, and use piano samples
the Caretaker's recent death took the form of a six-album-long exploration of dementia. There's an interview where he especially says he hopes that people who start collecting this 60-hr mega album for his classic spooky tearoom sound will feel alienated by the time we get to the end; so this is kind of a mix of the ghostly&amnesiac moods. Recently, this series became a meme hit which made me feel a bit weird, like somebody was reading my diary.
There's also Memories Overlooked: A Tribute To The Caretaker - a three-hour long album made by fans, in a similar style; and other fan projects around.
but there's more to the catalogue than crackle; I think the final track on Persistent Repetition has quite a, Blade-Runnery sound, you know? So settle down. Have a drink. It's on the house.
Filling the soundtrack with Caretaker at my immersive event, which was set among the ghosts underwater on a sunken, luxury liner. At that one hotel on the coast where I could hear the music in the ballroom. Sitting in the library from opening at 8am, waiting just waiting for my chance to get the Empty Bliss re-release, with the sun floating in wintery bars through the Edwardian windows, and daydreaming about my future garden of faded plants and a funereal peace. Was pretty stressful trying to decide between a purple vinyl and a black, and I still regret going for purple because I guess in retrospect I wanted that proper "old record" aesthetic - this little rumble of guilt at knowing I kinda do want a black one at the next opportunity, and how much I would hate another person for doing that with such a scarce thing. My copy of Empty Bliss has a UNIQUE record scratch, and my husband thinks it's ridiculous that I know exactly where it is. Watching Carnival of Souls. Mixing Caretaker tracks together for my second immersive event, which was set in a 1940s rail station cafe, interspersed with messages from the station manager about why the trains were so delayed. Finding my home, by stepping into the corridor and hearing both the Caretaker and the sound of a rushing train - tho no music was playing - and thinking yes, yes, yes, this is what i want to feel like all the time. My friends and community from haunthearted, the community for people who feel they are ghosts already in their own lives. Discovering Mark Fisher's writing, vanishing into the abyss and emerging a socialist ("so why did you become a socialist?" *infodump that is in some vague way something to do with Delia Derbyshire*. when i was 12 i discovered the music for the first time and asked for it for my birthday, and got a video of The Caretaker by Pinter instead; I still have it, unwatched, and tbh I am a little crushed because it means i lost opportunities to find his really rare early music? he deletes his stuff a Lot, and I'm not a fan of that, tho it's nice to stan an artist who interacts with his back catalogue, who isn't a static thing but continually revisiting; and the flipside of that is how generous he is with distributing free material online and archival bits and bobs. Still, i worry a Lot that some of these sounds haven't been archived and maybe nobody has them at all now? which would be fitting. Discovering that I really, truly love the Shining. I used to live somewhere with an original wooden fireplace which had a secret door behind the mirror - it was an old post office - and that's where I had my second Caretaker phase, in my 20s, when i needed comfort but was not yet as aware of what from. Listening to all my vinyls in one afternoon with my one friend who really Gets it. Finding out that more than one of my friends point blank refuses to listen to it: result! Many, many happy hours of dissociating into a warm fuzz on the sea of the sublime, learning how to vanish. Finding my religion, which has something to do with hauntings; something much bigger than faith, a whole new way of being. FUN FACT: my middle name was chosen for the Caretaker. TRUE STORY! It's nice to be ghostly, and I've filled my home with old things. 1970s ceramic dragons and broken clocks. There's a burnt out house near me and i can't climb up to the window to get the painting on the wall there, which is a brown painting of a little landscape, but i can hear it - a dark tug, a wanting to go back there, walk across the brittle floorboards and stand in front of it and see.
One bad thing about being a fan of the caretaker is that his work is very collectable and I hate that. When other people buy caretaker merch, it is because they are scummy, greedy collectors who just want to keep pristine objects away from true fans. when i do it, however, it is from the purest love that ear ever held for unharmony. Both he and I have intermittent internet presences too, so my life as a fan has been one of narrowly missing an opportunity to see that one live show at the Barbican, and missing out on that book. I was in a terrible life place when Everywhere At The End of Time was coming out and missed my opportunity to get 5 & 6, which was really crushing. Memories have a texture. For years, it was the loudest part of what I remembered from that time - not so much the being homeless and worrying about food and losing my stuff, but the pain of knowing I would never have those albums. I was so happy to see them re-released, at a moment I had money to spare. Precious, beautiful things (I have a duplicate of 4 now; hmu I guess?) I had been waiting until I had them to listen to them; there's something about the Caretaker+vinyl that's more than just record collector pride; they're made to go together. I am listening to it all for the first time now.
We cannot escape the past
These films are either direct influences on the Caretaker or have the right kind of mood.
- Carnival of Souls - big influence on the sound of Stairway & rainbow - this film is so good, but a big mood i had while watching was oh, i now understand the cathedral-esque parts of his sound
- The Shining - most evident on the first album, Haunted Ballroom; I find this a really soothing watch, I guess some days I just want to be in the hotel - big, sad, empty, hollow hotel - and stop existing for a while, or maybe start existing as a manifestation of carpets and walls.
- Sapphire and Steel - i don't know if it's a real influence on the Caretaker, but it certainly an inflence on me. An excellent and eerie set of horror-ish serials set in haunted places. I've always wanted to make some fanvids with Caretaker tracks, i think they're a very natural fit
Mark Fisher's books Ghosts of My Life and The Weird and the Eerie are really good reads; they are cultural theory/politics/philosophy, but very accessible, and put the Caretaker's work into context with other eerie and hauntological things.
I am loving the work being done to identify samples from all the Caretaker albums - it's extremely cool & i feel like i have been well and truly out-fanned. I definitely can't remember which songs are which this well. Are you even supposed to remember which song is which?
i think a lot about what it would be like to stop existing. you could die, or disappear and nobody ever discover what happened, or forget so many parts of yourself that you are no longer wholly you - or find that you have been forgotten. i find the Caretaker comforting to listen to, because it's a warm soft place where those feelings are ok. one of the greatest things bout the Caretaker is his evocative song titles: The loves of my entire life. All you are going to want to do is get back there. An empty bliss beyond this world. When we parted my heart wanted to die. The sublime is disappointingly elusive. Sadly, the future is no longer what it was. Not as she is now but how she appears in my dream.