For Martyna Basta, music is as much a confessional process as a creative pursuit. The composer and musician from Kraków, Poland, describes her work as an imaginary landscape enveloping a nucleus of her own reality—in other words, she takes her thoughts and feelings about the world around her and lets them run wild. On her debut full-length LP Making Eye Contact With Solitude, she mused upon the scenic surroundings of Eastern Europe by limiting herself to a naturalistic approach; field recordings and her own voice were the primary sources of sound, with only scant instrumentation to support. As her thoughts turned inward to face the abstract, a shift was necessary. Slowly Forgetting, Barely Remembering represents a pivot away from the natural and toward the metaphysical.
Field recordings remain the jumping-off point of each track, but become far more abstract than on previous efforts. The sounds of Basta’s city are slowly lost in the mix on opener “Presentiment,” giving way to ringing chimes and unintelligible chatter. Unusual use of the human voice is prominent: intermittent sung notes and breathy muttering dot the sparse panorama of “Podszepnik I,” while whispers call and respond to one another on “Slowly Forgetting, Barely Remembering” like a conversation overheard just barely within earshot. Like-minded audio autobiographer claire rousay lends her voice to “It Could Be As It Was Forever,” aided by Auto-Tune and backed by jagged violin. Basta gets closest to conventional singing on “Podszepnik II,” gradually stacking a heavenly chorus up into a haunting howl as she plucks out a simple melody on her guitar. The light use of guitar throughout the album seems consequential to her creative turn, too. It’s an instrument she abandoned following her training as a classical guitarist, but has rekindled her relationship with in an experimental context.
Basta’s work is often described as diaristic, but rather than a musical memoir, Slowly Forgetting, Barely Remembering reads more like an emotive, impressionist sketch. Vague forms approximate places she’s been, and broad strokes imply the movements she’s making. The details aren’t clear, but they don’t have to be; the feeling is all there.