Descent Into Madness by Brother SaturnRelease date: January 4, 2017
Brother Saturn enters 2017 with a surprise double feature; the first half of the two album set is Descent Into Madness; an album exploring fears, phobias, anxiety, sadness and lamentations and the artist’s attempt to reconcile such misery in composition.
‘Our Secrets Are Kept! There in the Closet…’ sets the album up on strong footing; it’s a solemn, twinkling, fantastical, suppressed, dichotomous listen that merges the magical with the mysterious and the morose in a way that can only really add up as being incredibly perceptive and accurate as a reflection of the strange, contradictory world we live in. Forbidden love, guilty pleasures, fantasies, dreams, double lives, single minds. Defence mechanisms, deceit, distance, illusion, doubt. Protecting those you love, hiding from the truth, running from yourself, growing up, living a lie, telling the truth. Freedom, honesty, flirtation, indulgence, privacy, intimacy, passion, compassion, forgiveness, betrayal, options, chances, opportunities, equality. Tolerance. Respect. Freedom. Progress. Evolution. Love. Hate: In reality, in denial.
Out of the closet, ‘Our Heart Beats As On, As I Stand Alone’ whisks the album away into a picturesque breeze with aeons passing with each reverberated key and kaleidoscopic twang of strings on a harpsichord-esque string. The fluttering keys cascade down gently in of haze of euphonic euphoria; Brother Saturn choose his titles well, this syrupy track is probably the sweetest love song you’ll hear all day and it’s a lot better for not having any sappy lyrics.
As though the opening of the album was some dream or bittersweet nostalgia; ‘Voice From Beyond’ unravels the album with an alienated sense of isolation. Dropping us into an astral gulf of sullen, otherworldly electronica built upon disparate keys and pitch-shifting drones. Brother Saturn is slowly falling. The atmosphere seeps into a new movement – ‘Between Life & Death, I’m Somewhere in Between’ it’s a glacial plunge into the cold and heartlessness of an abyss like the first step into a downward spiral of emotional self-destruction.
‘Everyone is Watching You’ bores into that abyss like a dentist’s drill shedding anxiety and suspense like fragments of marrow falling in a dream. It’s like realising you’re exposed before your peers and everyone is staring just at the pivotal moment; the track is nightmarish in a suburban way, it’s a psychological manifestation of our social fears and paranoias, gleefully dissecting the sleeping horrors at the back of our minds. Each piercing pad and crunched melody, spinning nauseously and abrasively under the somnambulist’s hazy guise. It’s a magnificent track and conjures it’s emotions incredibly well. It’s interesting how it’s juxtaposed with ‘Invisible Self’, a track that is almost like awakening from a deep sleep in comparison to the glowing morning sun and the soothing sounds of the dawn chorus.
For me, the most definitive track on this album is ’Thoughts Are Imaginary’ – this track to me is what Descent Into Madness is all about; it features all of the album’s hallmark noisy pads and delicate keys; its sadness, its anxiety but, it is also completely insanity inducing when considering the title with the music. The track facilitates deep thinking yet, has an unsettling quality like some sort of Psychological Thriller but, if we consider that we don’t think but that we feel and articulate our feelings in languages we learnt; it at first helps us champion the process of learning a language to express ourselves better but, what the title really suggests is that these words that we invented are just constructs that we glue to the walls of our brain to attempt to decipher the unfathomable complexity of our true wants and desires; we have yet to describe the ineffable and we never will. That is what is so maddening about the title; there are things we as humans will never understand and that means that we are limited and that we are also undeveloped because we still need to learn how to communicate better, to understand each other and ourselves so that we can reach those limitations and go to the summit of our capability and bask in the splendour of existence rather than allow our ignorance to breed fear and hatred and misunderstanding because those things are the worst aspects of human nature. I guess there’s some truth to the next title ‘I’m Not A Hypnotist, I’m Just Your Therapist’…
‘We Were As Still As The Dead Beneath Us’ concludes the album emphatically. Its mournful opening like ash scattering out to sea, its sorrowful abrasion emblematic of loss. It’s a burial of strong emotions with a deer-in-the-headlights stare transfixed at the harrow to come and if that paralysed image of sadness, trepidation and grief doesn’t accurately surmise and conclude this half of the album for you then I guess you need to move forward immediately on two the second half because this is after all part of a much bigger picture of Brother Saturn.