Think of the most tragic person you know, especially one of those tormented artist types. Yes, preferably those who chose to end their life in the midst of their prime.
Yup, take your pick between Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, or Kurt Cobain. Other suggestions are welcome.
And then, imagine the manner of music that is playing in their head, in the days leading up to their demise.
Envisage the aural chronicling of the alternate ranges of furtive bleakness and suffocating pain crippling a soul that’s all too willing to let go, and a blurriness rooted in a haze of artificial substances. This is the world where one’s body is a chemical toilet, and the only solution to clean up the shit is to flush it all down.
This is what Boduf Songs’ eponymous debut, Mat Sweet’s solo singer-songwriter project, sounds like. He incidentally seems to be a fucked-up dude whose musical vocabulary is exclusively composed of minor, diminished, and atonal chords. Sweet (ironic name, really) is an even more melancholic version of Nick Drake, whose guitar plucking drowns Six Organs of Admittance in an ocean of overwhelming sorrow.
Boduf Songs is essentially a DIY lo-fi demo, albeit a rather good one. The quality is more Damien Rice than Pre-Vanderslice Mountain Goats, but the ubiquitous tape-hiss prevents studio sheen from peeking through. That lends a sense of intimacy to the proceedings, but such closeness is unnecessary in the presence of such misery. The effect of listening to the album - full immersion via headphones - is akin to barging open the gates of hell and plunging headfirst into the insanity, flames and all.
True to the freak-folk genre, there is a series of laptop embellishments build upon Sweet’s sadness. They are non-invasive and sparse. A chime here, a swell there, little isolated throbbing stabs permeating the blank spaces. They are apt representations of the moans of a spirit in purgatory, a gnashing of teeth manifested in musical arrangment.
Sweet sings in a voice which is best described as a ‘lush hush’, a thickness that is compressed into whispered tones. Instead of centering the attention on his pipes, the reverb makes the vocals blend in as part of the arrangements. Furthermore, with lyrics as vague as song titles like “Puke a Pitch Black Rainbow to the Sun” and “Oh Celebrate Your Vague Words and Coquettish Sovereignty” suggest, they serve as accompaniment more than a focal point.
We ask ourselves the question - how much sadness can one man accumulate in the course of a lifetime? And Sweet answers in every note and turn of phrase – an eternity’s worth.
Indeed, this is mood music for depressives.
// Notes from the Road
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