Hello everyone, I’m back with another video, and… did you ever wonder what it was like to be old? Or to be aware that you’re going to die soon? Well here, I have for you, Everywhere at the End of Time, a 6 and a half hour composition made by James Leyland Kirby, or The Caretaker, meant to depict the slow descent of a Dementia patient into memory loss, confusion and eventually, death. I just wanna let you know we’ll be covering some very dark topics today, so if you have any sort of mental health problem or are made uncomfortable by this sort of thing, I suggest you click off and watch something else. And also, this review is completely my opinion, so I don’t suggest any of you going down in the comments and typing “oh, why don’t you like this” or “oh, I hated this bit, you have to have the same opinion as me”. Just no, that’s not how society works, deal with it. Anyway, enough of my tangent, there’s a lot to unpack in 6 and a half hours. Also ignore the KineMaster watermark. Alright, enough rambling, let’s get into the video.
The description for Stage 1 reads:
Here we experience the first signs of memory loss. This stage is most like a beautiful daydream. The glory of old age and recollection. The last of the great days.
Stage 1, the first stage of the entire project, begins with one of the most important songs of all. “It’s Just a Burning Memory” is pretty much the main theme of the entire thing, and is a sample from the song “Heartaches” by Al Bowlly. This stage is the equivalent of the patient’s normal life, before everything goes to hell. I imagine this stage’s visual equivalent as an old person sitting on a garden bench, stroking their cat and quietly dozing off. To be honest, I kinda find it genuinely sad that this is the last time this person is ever gonna have a moment like this. The song titles are quite concerning too, and make me even sadder. They consist of titles like “We Don’t Have Many Days”, “Childishly Fresh Eyes”, and “My Heart Will Stop In Joy”. The album cover for this stage seems to be a newspaper that’s completely blank and devoid of words, which implies that the patient often forgets what they read on the news that morning, and many other short-term, unimportant things. This may just be a speculation, but the paper is also neatly rolled up, but curled and bent at the end, maybe symbolising the patient’s state of mind. Overall, this album is well described by the sentence in the description, “This stage is most like a beautiful daydream”. The patient has no worries, and is blissfully unaware of the war starting inside them.
The description for Stage 2 reads:
The second stage is the self realisation and awareness that something is wrong with a refusal to accept that. More effort is made to remember so memories can be more long form with a little more deterioration in quality. The overall personal mood is generally lower than the first stage and at a point before confusion starts setting in.
Stage 2 has a much more sad and sombre mood than Stage 1. It’s also more distorted, and the static and crackling in the background has become much more noticeable, as the patient’s mind is beginning to decay. It begins with a track named “A Losing Battle Is Raging”, which consists of a gloomy clarinet solo over short looping static for 4 and a half minutes. There are a few songs in this stage that are quite unsettling and uncanny, like “Misplaced in Time” and “Glimpses of Hope in Trying Times”. The album cover seems to depict a flower pot, drawn abstractly, with two children running around either side, and wilting flowers placed inside. The first track from Stage 1 reappears in this album as a leitmotif, but this time much more distant and muffled, and with a different sample. Leitmotif will be used many times throughout this album, as a sense of nostalgia, and symbolising the gradual fading of memories as the songs you used to be able to hear perfectly well slowly turn into an incoherent mess. This stage’s songs are slightly longer, with only 5 songs on each side instead of 6. This is a great album, and definitely belongs in the top 3 of this project.
The description for Stage 3 reads:
Here we are presented with some of the last coherent memories before confusion fully rolls in and the grey mists form and fade away. Finest moments have been remembered, the musical flow in places is more confused and tangled. As we progress some singular memories become more disturbed, isolated, broken and distant. These are the last embers of awareness before we enter the post awareness stages.
This stage is one of my favourites, and definitely one of the most common favourites in the fandom. The tracks in this album are much shorter, symbolic of memories being broken up and isolated in the mist, and there are 8 songs per side. They sound much more distant than in the first 2 stages, and have that same unnerving, uncanny vibe that I talked about in Stage 2. Leitmotif is used excessively in this stage, showing you how much the quality has degraded already since the start, not even close to halfway in, by showing you an example of a song you’ve already heard in good quality before. The “Back There Benjamin” leitmotif is introduced in this album, and repeated 2 or 3 times throughout. The leitmotif from the very first song in the project is also repeated a couple of times here. And “Hidden Sea Buried Deep”’s extremely short sample repeated over and over hits this certain spot in you, that really messes with your head. Extreme uncanny valley. The track names are not very hopeful, consisting of things like “And Heart Breaks”, “Burning Despair Does Ache”, and “Mournful Cameraderie”. This stage feels like it’s trying hard to sound happy, but failing miserably, and instead sounding more unsettling. The album art seems to depict some sort of frazzled-up mess, resembling a piece of seaweed. It also looks rather like a destroyed/almost forgotten version of the flower pot from Stage 2, which I see as a plausible theory. The songs are heavily drowned in reverb and delay, and they cut off very abruptly at the end, seemingly where the song should continue, which is symbolic of memories becoming short-form and broken up. Some different instruments are also used in this album, such as music boxes and synths. The synths can be heard in the later portion of the album, playing ambient drones behind the songs while transitioning into Stage 4. All in all, this stage is probably the best one out of the first 3, and I definitely recommend it.
The description for Stage 4 reads:
Post-Awareness Stage 4 is where serenity and the ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror. It’s the beginning of an eventual process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.
This stage is the beginning of the long haul that is the Post-Awareness Stages. These last for two thirds of the entire project’s runtime, and are very taxing to listen to, but trust me, they pay off in the end. This specific stage, and the rest that follow, are all between 80-90 minutes long, while the previous 3 were all only around 40 minutes. This long-form, confusing nature that the 3 Post-Awareness stages have is symbolic of the patient’s struggle in the later stages of Dementia. Stage 4 itself is quite fun in the first half, like playing a game of search-and-find to see which songs you can hear among the warped and confused noises. There are many samples for you to find from earlier on in the project, or new ones that you don’t seem to have heard before (but you probably have). For example, you can hear many examples of the first and fourth songs from Stage 1. The second half of Stage 4 on the other hand, is more calming than the distorted mess of the first, with synth bell sounds and only a slight distorted mess in the background. But it is also **very** repetitive and **very** hard to listen to further in. It feels like I’m just hearing the same thing over and over, which I’m sure is what Kirby intended, as people with Alzheimer’s tend to find themselves in the same places, repeatedly doing the same things every day, unknowingly. The song titles are quite disturbing, almost similar to medical diagnoses, but not quite as medical as they are psychological. They are as follows: “Post-Awareness Confusions” (tracks 1, 2 and 4 all have this same title) and “Temporary Bliss State”. In the middle of the second track, at about 2 hours and 43 minutes, a terrifying sound plays called the “Hell Sirens”, blocking out all of the other audio in the song. This is a loud, descending sound that is similar to that of a WWII Air Raid Siren. The album art for this stage seems to depict a woman, with a smudge over her face, and seemingly no features. Overall, this stage was pretty hard to get through, but it was decent, and the first half was fun.
The description for Stage 5 reads:
Post-Awareness Stage 5 confusions and horror. More extreme entanglements, repetition and rupture can give way to calmer moments. The unfamiliar may sound and feel familiar. Time is often spent only in the moment leading to isolation.
Stage 5 was probably the least bearable stage for me, either that or the second half of Stage 4, just due to pure repetition. Stage 5 was goddamn LOUD. I could barely hear myself speaking over all the jumbled up mess of distorted samples, static and drones. The sentence in the description for this stage, “The unfamiliar may sound and feel familiar” holds very true azw`throughout the album, as there are still samples of ballroom music that can be heard from time to time, and you think you’ve heard them before, but you can’t pinpoint exactly what, where or when. The noise in this stage is even more messed-up and jumbled than in Stage 4, and it was extremely taxing listening to this for almost 90 minutes. This stage felt like it went the slowest, it seemed just as long as the first 3 stages were together. And it almost is. There are some very short moments of peace and clarity between the long parts of madness and confusion, symbolised by 20-30 second clips of fairly coherent music and calming ambience. But these moments are sparse, and greatly outnumbered by the amount of garbled noise and distortion. All gripes aside, this stage isn’t meant to be fun. It symbolises very well the absolute hell the patient goes through, even if just for a miniscule fraction of the long period of time that they suffer. At this point, their brain is so messed-up that it looks like some sort of zombie munched on it, and is barely even functional at all anymore. The item in the album cover is indecipherable, as is the music, and the patient’s daily life. The song titles are, similarly to the fourth stage, medical diagnoses of this effect on the brain, which implies that the songs were named by the doctor instead of the patient, further implying that the hospital has pretty much become the patient’s entire life now. The titles are as follows: “Advanced Plaque Entanglements” (this title is repeated twice for the first two songs), “Synapse Retrogenesis”, and “Sudden Time Regression into Isolation”. In the last track, a strange haunting choir can be heard throughout almost the entire song, chanting a similar harmony the whole way through, with reverberated crackles and ambience, and dark static drones.The hell sirens from Stage 4 are sampled again, and used in the first track at about 3 hours and 50 minutes. The whole stage follows a similar progression to Stage 4 (a lot of things are similar to Stage 4, aren’t they), as in the first half is very loud and distorted, with more decipherable samples, while the second half is more calm and drone-based. This stage was hard to get through, but it was great anyway.
The description for Stage 6 reads:
Post-Awareness Stage 6 is without description.
One of the scariest things I’ve ever read. Long story short, Post-Awareness Stage 6 is barebones, but brutal and emotional. This stage is my absolute favourite of them all, and without the context of the previous stages, it just sounds like silence and white noise. But when you’ve listened to stages 1-5 beforehand, you’re in for a cryfest. Don’t worry, it’s inevitable, we’ve all done it. The song titles also gave me an existential crisis, thinking about how this person is living at this point. We’ll get back to that in a second. The first song’s title is “A Confusion So Thick You Forget Forgetting”. One hell of a title. “A Brutal Bliss Beyond This Empty Defeat” is the second song’s name, which refers to the sinking but blissful feeling of knowing nothing at all, therefore not having to deal with anything (I think that’s what it is anyway, I can’t be sure). “Long Decline Is Over” refers to the fact that the long downhill slope that the patient’s life has been going down for the past few years, has finally flattened out. And finally, “Place in the World Fades Away”, another hell of a title, directly talks about death, and all worries ceasing, as you cease, yourself. Now back to the meaning of the first title. “A Confusion So Thick You Forget Forgetting” quite literally talks about the sheer amount of things Alzheimer’s makes you forget. Not many people realise, but Dementia never stops rotting your brain until it has turned it into a pile of pinkish-green mush. You slowly forget everyone you know, all of your past. By the end, you have no ability and no awareness of anything. You just lie there obliviously, trapped in your own purgatory. You don’t forget your identity, but you forget how to express it. You forget your face, so when you look in the mirror you see a complete stranger. You forget basic concepts, like writing, art, language, living or remembering. Stage 6 completely symbolises this, and does it extremely well. Empty and hollow silence, only broken by static drones and samples which are muffled beyond recognition. 90 minutes of white noise should’ve been boring, but it wasn’t at all. Just hearing the amount of tiny little details that can be noticed, you know a ton of effort was put into this album. The final track is an absolute masterpiece, and you cannot convince me otherwise. It gave me so many different feelings, from unnerved to skeptical to miserable, only with 20 minutes of jarring droning and church choirs. If you can make something like that, you are extremely talented, and deserve so much reward. James Kirby is an absolute genius for making this entire thing. I feel like I should have said that before, but I didn’t, so I’m saying it now. James Kirby deserves everything for the effort he put into this project. Anyway, one more thing I have left to talk about is the album art. The cover for this album is, no doubt, the scariest of them all. A blank cardboard canvas, with four pieces of blue tape stuck on, meaning the paper has been ripped off. This symbolises the extremely dark reality of life in the latest stages of Dementia. It symbolises your state of mind. Everything is just blank. There is nothing to think, nothing to do, nothing to remember. You just exist. That’s harsh. But this long decline is finally over when we reach the final 6 minutes of Place in the World Fades Away. These 6 minutes are some of the most beautiful minutes of music I’ve heard in my entire life. If you don’t want to spoil the ending for yourself, please skip to this timestamp shown on the screen. The angelic choirs and the soft piano are soothing and sublime. The amount of distortion and muffling doesn’t matter to you, you’re just happy that you’re hearing intelligible music for the first time in 4 and a half hours. This lasts for a blissful 5 minutes, and then it cuts. The patient has died, and there is a minute of silence to mourn their passing and show respect. The project ends, and you are left with a feeling of accomplishment, but at the same time, you feel like you wish it lasted longer. Even though it was 6 and a half hours. Even though the better portion of it wasn’t that enjoyable. If you’re able to make something like that and still make people wish for more, you really are a talented individual. Props to you, James Kirby.
Well, that was it. I hope all of you enjoyed this video, and I wish you all a happy, Dementia-free life. I spent way too long listening to this and making this video, so please make sure to drop a like and a sub! Also, sorry for all the weird noises, I don’t have good recording equipment, and I was slightly sick while recording this. Remember to always be kind and considerate! Adios amigos!