Known for his unique sampling techniques and texture-rich soundscapes, Whettman Chelmets' most recent album For... is filled with a menagerie of moods and atmospheres that chronicle the strange and confusing year we've had in retrospect. At first glance, it almost seems to be a play on the classic piece Four Seasons by Vivaldi but in name only. This album is very uniquely a product of the musical philosophy that Chelmets consistently embraces in his works.
Released in late March, For... plays as one piece divided into four not-so-distinct parts. Being a trek through the seasons, we are treated to spring, summer, autumn, and winter; though not in that order. The piece begins in the fall with "Autumn 1 (A Remembrance on Normalcy)," a dark-tinged atmosphere filled with odd clicking and a foreboding atmosphere that is then lightened a bit by the next track. "Autumn 2 (A Gathering of Loved Ones)" gives us a slightly brighter atmosphere with an airy pad and the sounds of a calm day in the park, including birds and the rustling of leaves.
As the album moves us into winter, things begin dimly in "Winter 1 (New Year's Eve Does Not Foreshadow)" with a strange oscillating pad that is accompanied by the sounds of slowly moving water but then shift into dramatically more optimistic territory with the next track "Winter 2 (New Year's Day)." Here we are treated to the beautiful fretwork that Chelmets has to offer as he brings a jazz-influenced post-rock guitar into the mix that makes this track seem to stand out as something of a bright spot compared to the darker textures we experience throughout the rest of the album. Chelmets continues to treat us to his superb guitar work as we move through the last track of winter and into the first of spring with the former being a bit darker than the latter.
"Spring 1 (Oblivious)" sets the impression that this season will be a happier one with a bright acoustic guitar although the slightly off pad that plays alongside it suggests otherwise. The next two tracks of spring present us with a sound that is a bit sadder than the first, almost as if they seem to embody the optimism that things would get better only to be hit with the realization that everything is still very much in tumult. "Summer 1 (Unrelenting)" and "Summer 2 (The Promise of Better Days)" continue to solidify this theme as we are taking through a hectic and slightly uncomfortable moment in the first and given a moment of serenity and clarity with the second. As we drift through this final track, we are given a glimpse into a simple moment of a man playing with his dog as he matter of factly states that "It's a good day."
For... is truly a journey, and a familiar one at that. Throughout the past year, the world had been in flux and uncertaintly has persisted. In this album, Chelmets has succinctly and masterfully captured the feelings of anxiety mixed with cautious optimism that have gripped almost all of us as we wait for things to return to normal.