Sangam – You Forget This

Dream Catalogue (DREAM_133), 2016

You Forget This is an album steeped in sadness, regret, and grief. From the first of its twenty tracks to the last, electronic producer Sangam creates a mood of rain-soaked melancholy and profound introspection. In some ways, You Forget This is a single track, a near-palpable outpouring of hurt, and it’s almost impossible to escape the album’s spell. There’s much beauty to be heard in the web of beatless organ-dirge synth tones, but there’s little ignoring the isolated upheaval that wraps its sorrowful arms around every moment.

For the emotionally impressionable, You Forget This is the most potent of pills; a modern-day hymn for the lost and displaced. The cover image is of a city seen through a rain-streaked upper-story window; a fitting setting for the isolation that an urban sprawl can generate. When the world outside is chaotic and confusing, one can tend to turn inward, replaying memories and pondering past decisions; dwelling on mistakes through hindsight can be a dark and tempting mistress. Sangam is a conduit for all of this, conjuring the beauty of sadness with a magician’s refined flourish.

You Forget This is not an album of conceptual ambience. Aside from the sounds of rain and thunder that permeates the album, Sangam unfurls waves of synth chords that flow in deep blues and static grays. The focus here is on the music, which recalls basic organ chords from the quieter side of classic Bach. From the heavy loops of “Blue” and the sorrowful tones of “Purple Lights” to the choirlike feel of “Endmost,” the album wears its dark cloak proudly. There are harsher moments to be heard, like the strident noise of “Held in the Dialogue” and the high-pitched whining keys of “Egotistical,” and these instances are just enough to keep the mood at bay, if only temporarily.

The album’s second half shows a bit more variety, moving away from our apartment into the heart of the city itself. “Bus Shelter” adds slow-motion vocal samples that recall the sounds of early Burial. The keys of “November” are much closer to drone territory, with another floating voice twisting through the air like a smoky ghost. “Noya” lifts the mood a bit, with a brighter feel and a particularly airy sample, but we’re soon back under the melancholic fog of “Cemetery”, with plaintive plucked guitar adding an extra textural layer. It’s here that Sangam hints at talent beyond the thickly layered reflection that dominates You Forget This, and it’s to the album’s benefit.

Fans of Dream Catalogue may hear numerous parallels between You Forget This and the stunning album ルートバックホーム from label-mate Remember. Both albums are based on heavily emotive and atmospheric synths, but while Remember produced an album that was primarily ambient, Sangam’s focus is much narrower; an arguably less versatile but more powerful listen. You Forget This can perhaps be faulted for being too single-minded in character; this is also not an album you want to play when you’re in a good mood (and perhaps even not when you’re particularly depressed). Where Sangam succeeds, however, is in the undeniably accurate portrayal of a certain emotional state, and from this perspective, You Forget This is almost unmatched.