Martin's songs favor loops and drones set well below 100 BPM, which he gently nudges and alters with effects as they carry on. For the likes of "The Singing Bile" and "Paean Delle Palme," that means a narcotic drift through dark hollows, while "Little Jammy Centre" uses the method to uncover randomized pop ideas. "Stripping At The Nail" sounds like Memory Care Unit's most intentional song, a sullen centerpiece that spreads post-punk gloom over a drawn out verse-chorus structure. Martin strums a bass riff so slow and simple that it almost doesn't sound like a hook, and the plaintive synth chords in the chorus are so bright you almost can't hear him whispering the vocal theme. The serendipity of Martin's unconscious music is mesmerizing, but "Stripping At The Nail" reveals his underused ear for avant-pop songwriting.
Whatever the approach is from track to track, delicate source materials, tactile textures and sparse layering make Memory Care Unit an immersive record. As in Grouper's Ruins, or even certain moments in Joy Division's music, Martin makes isolation feel both inescapable and enlightening. By the time he ends on "Memorize Them Well" an emotional revolution has occurred. Echoing the noisy awe of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's A Year With 13 Moons, the closer plays like a slow, billowing ascension. It could evoke an out-of-body experience as much as an internal epiphany, or some combination of the two. Disconnecting himself from the outside world and unravelling his thoughts through incidental music, Martin's creative process for Memory Care Unit was like a form of meditation. And in its final minutes, he allows himself transcendence.