Filtering by Tag: fear

It Feels Like The Apocalypse

I usually start writing a song when I feel I have what I call ‘a good starting point’. It might be a sound, an image or even an entire line.

When I began to write It Feels Like The Apocalypse, I only had its title.

Among all the songs that are part of Songs Of Fear & Agony, It Feels Like The Apocalypse is probably the least personal. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s less important than the others. 

 

We saw their flesh rotting,

Their bones turning to clay.

He said: ‘It’s the apocalypse.’

I said ‘Just a play.’


We walked on the rubble

Of the Tower of Babel

He said: ‘We’ll be history’

I said: ‘Just a fable.’


Yet I find myself shuddering

At the syncopated tune

Of my own breath.

Death is a thought

I can ignore

No more.

 

I think of it as a series of memories related to a friendship that was not meant to last because of an apocalyptic social situation. I think it’s clear, in the verses above, that I’m talking about some sort of war. 

 

My friend was no idiot,

And to me, this was clear.

He just asked me in my dispassion

To comprehend his fear.


My friend transmuted hearts

Made of lead into gold

While I just conjured demons

For fear of getting old.


Now I find myself shuddering

At the syncopated tune

Of my own breath.

Death is a thought

I can ignore

No more.


Why was the narrator’s friend so scared? Well, I wrote this song thinking of him as one of the targets of a violent discriminating government. What do you think will happen to him?

 

The last time I saw him,

He’d been tied up in chains.

They had shattered his head,

They had trodden on his brain.


The last time I heard of him,

I was wrapped up in shame.

I groaned, it was agony,

And I cried out his name.


So I find myself shuddering

At the syncopated tune

Of my own breath.

Death is a thought

I can ignore

No more.

 

The narrator basically tells us that, in front of the reality of death, he finally realised what his friend meant when talking of fear.

Although this song might sound like a social (or even political) lament, the themes I had in mind when I was writing it were much more existential. As it happens, eventually, the song got a life of its own, and it would be difficult for me to say that it doesn’t contain any references to (historical or modern) society.

In a way, it’s funny: I’ve always tried to ignore any kinds of politics, but it seems I can’t do that anymore, not even in my art... Am I too scared?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Maus, Art Spiegelman, 1980 - 1991

Maus, Art Spiegelman, 1980 - 1991

The Voices Of The Sirens

Sunday is here again, and that means that it’s time for a new post.

It’s been a while since I wrote about the album I’m recording, Songs Of Fear & Agony. The last time I mentioned it, I was working on 11 songs...

Well, I recently decided to record only 10. Here’s the updated tracklist:

 

1. Pandora

2. The Books Of Hell

3. The Voice Of The Goddess

4.  Fear & Agony

5. Prometheus

6. The Concept Of Tragedy

7. It Feels Like The Apocalypse

8. Sisyphus

9. The Voices Of The Sirens

10. The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel

 

The Dream Of Veronique, the missing song, will be added to another series of track, but I’ll talk about that later in the future. 

Now, there are only 3 songs I haven’t told you about: It Feels Like The Apocalypse, The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel and the one I’m about to discuss: The Voices Of The Sirens.

 

First of all, the lyrics: 

 

A dull pain in your chest exhales

A thousand sighs you left unsung.

Remorse runs smoothly in your blood,

But it won’t soothe your torpid heart.


The sirens laugh and call you again.

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


Now perfume violates your brain

With secrets you have always known.

Delight reveals his garden waits

Beyond the lies you haven’t told.


The sirens laugh and call you again:

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


And you crave the imprudence of their skin.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t know?


And you crave the acceptance of their breath.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t need?


You close your eyes, you close your ears

And mouth five-hundred-year old words.

“Appease your troubled heart”, you sing,

While wondering when your heart will blow.


The sirens laugh and call you again:

You see them grin

Above the surface of the sea.


And you crave the imprudence of their skin.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t know?


And you crave the acceptance of their breath.

But what’s the point in craving

What you don’t need?


And you crave the virtue of their eyes.

But what’s the point in craving

What you can’t see?


And you crave the inflection of their hearts.

But what’s the point in craving

What you can’t hear?

 

If you have read my previous posts, you certainly know that I’m about to talk about one thing in particular: themes.

I’ve always thought of The Voices Of The Sirens as a very straightforward song, but maybe that’s because... Well, I wrote it! If the most superficial concept behind it is not clear enough, I’ll reveal it for you: sexual attraction. At least, that’s what I had in mind when I was writing it.

I probably chose to write about this particular topic because of a song I really love. It’s called ‘Le Passanti’, and it was written by one of the most important Italian Singer-Songwriters ever, Fabrizio De André. To be more precise, ‘Le Passanti’ is basically the Italian version of ‘Les Passants’ by George Brassens, which in turn was based on a poem by Antoine François Pol. Anyway, the song in question is about a man who remembers a series of women he happened to see in his life but never really approached (I’m oversimplifying, so check it out if you’re interested!). It’s a beautifully written song about memories and possibilities, and I thought it would be a good starting point for my own lyrics.

Although the concept is similar, The Voices Of The Sirens is something else. The attraction generated by the sirens doesn’t turn into a melancholically pleasent memory. On the contrary, it soon fades out leaving behind just a cold logical series of questions.

But how can that be? How can a sexual impulse be stopped so abruptly?

The answer and the real theme of the song is: depression.

I think it’s clear now that this is not only one of the most important themes of this song: It’s also one the most important themes of the entire album!

Here we go again...

 

Thanks for reading! 

  

The Siren Vase, Attributed to The Siren Painter, About 480 - 470 BC

The Siren Vase, Attributed to The Siren Painter, About 480 - 470 BC

The Books Of Hell

‘The Books Of Hell’ is the second track of my album ‘Songs Of Fear And Agony’, and it’s one of my favourites.

One more stroke of fear to start

Provoking all those vacuous eyes.

Disdain is just a simple matter

Of self-preservation.

Some years ago I spent one of the worst periods of my life, and this song was inspired by it. It could be considered as my personal vision of hell or one of the many.

Depression amplifies every single aspect of life you normally dislike and, at the same time, erases the pleasure you get from what you love. You constantly try to find something you might enjoy, and unfortunately, sometimes the only thing that gives you pleasure is your own condemning other people’s sins.

Why is this song called ‘The Books Of Hell’?

Books are my special friends. They give me pleasure and food to feed my mind at the same time. Music and films are special because they’re alive, in a way, and that’s because of their essential element: time. You’re face to face with them. Books are different. Books are dead, and that’s not a negative thing: the dead are the greatest teachers.

Books, like any other things, didn’t give me much pleasure during the time I told you about, but...

But after all, I can’t complain.

I’ve got some books of poems and plays

And, yeah, the amusement’s gone but, still,

Their fundamental truth remains.

Thanks for reading!

Picture from the series ‘Divine Comedy’, Gustave Doré

Picture from the series ‘Divine Comedy’, Gustave Doré

Fear & Agony

I feel I should write a few lines about a song I wrote and recorded around four years ago. Its title is different now, but at the time it was called ‘Captivity’.

Usually, after I finish a song, I don’t really know how important that is going to be. Many songs I genuinely love during the writing process become unbearably dull to my ears after some time, while others I don’t really care of, eventually, end up being my favourite ones. I never know.

The situation of ‘Captivity’ has always been different, though. When I started writing it, I knew it was an important song and, after four years, it still is.

The problem with songs you really love is that you want their recording to sound as good as possible. Unfortunately, although interesting, the recorded version of ‘Captivity’ wasn’t that good. That’s why you won’t find it in my first two EPs.

Fortunately, as it happens many times in our lives, what seemed to be a problem turned out to be a blessing:

‘Captivity’, which is now ‘Fear & Agony’, has become the most important song of the album I’m recording...

And that’s because I feel I’m not done with it...

And I feel I’m not done with it because the energy the song contains hasn’t been released yet!

I’m going to do that soon with the help of a special guest (yes, Hugh Cannon, I’m talking about you),  and this time I won’t make the same mistakes (although I’m sure I will make some others...).

If you’re curious, this is the first stanza:

Can you hear the deep white noise

That heralds the executioner?

It mauls the crags and madly yells:

“Don’t waste your pleas: the sickle’s deaf.”

The main themes are, obviously, ‘fear’ and ‘agony’, but I’ve always felt there’s another one that underlines them...

The picture below comes from ‘Shame’, a film made by Ingmar Bergman in 1968. Four years ago I sampled the first dialogue of the film and added it to the recording of the song. That’s one of the few things that actually worked.

Thanks for reading!

Shame, Ingmar Bergman, 1968

Shame, Ingmar Bergman, 1968

© Black Art 2019