“The album I have written is all based around an ongoing journey that I embarked on around four years ago when I decided that I needed to take some time to get to know myself and to know more about the vast world that we all call life. I had started speaking to a counsellor and in tandem to this had begun reading philosophy from many different periods of time in history, feeling really drawn to the Stoics, Existentialism, Absurdism, Buddhism and Taoism to name a few of the schools of thought I read up on. I learnt a lot about myself as well through psychoanalyst theory and psychology alongside all of this too.
What I found to be so interesting was not just the revelations I had about why I was the way I was, but the profound connection that I gained from such a self-discovery. Inadvertently I begun to feel a deep, ephemeral sense of oneness that we all share. As I nurtured my own suffering I realised that we all carried our own pain; each of us experiencing a sense of loneliness, isolation, inadequacy. I felt this deeply and it felt like a truly beautiful thing to fathom, almost giving so much more meaning to my own suffering and likewise evoking a powerful drive to try and impart the same sense of beauty onto others, and thus the concept for the album was found.
This informed the mood-rich theme that rolls through the whole release, which undulates and shifts in oscillations, much like that of our own lived experiences.”
The first track on the album that I had written. Not originally intended to be a part of an album but sonically I felt it fit into the vision that I had in mind for it. The mood on this one more-or-less guided me in the direction I wanted the whole release to follow; plenty of rumbling mid frequency bass, dramatic drums and powerful, meaningful melodic themes.
‘Larva’ translates roughly to ‘Mask’ in Latin, being a language I draw from for many of the track names on the album. The mask being crystal is meant to be suggestive that the protective persona that we offer to the world can be broken, with some effort, to reveal the true core of who we are beneath.
I am a school teacher when I am not making music and this track was actually the piece of music that a group of children choreographed an interpretative, contemporary dance piece to as a part of a national dance competition in Bristol called ‘Stages’. I worked with an 8 year old girl on this collaboration, which was a truly wonderful experience.
This track was much more clubby when I first started making it but became through many revisions a much more moody, stripped back version of itself. It has a yearning, determined feel to it I think and actually features the sound of a strange honking cat on it too. I tried to keep the percussion minimal and let the polyrhythmic melody sing its hopeful lament.
It is a homage to those who are likewise committed to helping others to feel as if they belong to this world; who have been disillusioned by something in their lives and long to feel welcome again. I salute all of you who have made this your mission, and I hope that I can do the same myself.
Bruised, But Not Broken
This track is where the energy of the release begins to shift into something much more driving and pulsing. It ended up sounding very middle-eastern with its percussion and is quite hypnotic and eerie at times I think.
The namesake is reminiscent of Nietzsche’s quote ‘That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,’ which I can see flaws in contextually, but likewise feel is a very important mindset to carry always. Adversity is looming for all of us in its own way. It is important to cultivate a sense of self-strength and worth to keep pushing forwards despite this. Plato once said ‘be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle’, and I think that kindness should be extended to ourselves too.
The mood of the track comes through for me as a nuanced combination of imminent dread, melancholic, realistic hopefulness and inner mental strength. Be prepared for life to throw its difficulties at you, steel yourself through the pain, but feel free to cry and be vulnerable along the way.
U Were, U Are & What U Will Be
The energy on this track is much more contemplative and playful than the other three tracks thus far. The title comes from a line from a Ryuichi Sakamoto track ‘life, LIFE’ off his ‘async’ album which reads ‘I was, I am, and I will be’ which made me think about the idea of our lives being a continuation from one sense of perception to the next. Who we were once is often radically different to who we are now, and who know who we will be in the future?
I realised how different we could be and how much our lives can change, even without us recognizing it. When you tune into this endless shift in our perception however, it becomes even more of a magical and engaging experience to consider how we grow and change and can be active in the way that we see the world. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time to examine yourself and how you see the world through your own eyes and I think it is worthwhile for everyone in the world to take the time to consider such questions as ‘what do I think is important in my life?’ or ‘why do I think that I see the world in the way that I do?’ You’d be surprised as to what you will find as you explore this, if my own exploration is any indication.
Pulchra Es Elementis
I made this track the title track of the album as I felt that the energy generated by the main lead pad really captured the way that I felt on this entire journey. I really think that the grandiose nature of this track is a burning light that exists in everyone deep down; a little fragment of determination that we can either extinguish or stoke gently to grow into a light bright enough to offer even warmth to many around us. If you want the greatest insight into how I felt about being alive during this time, this track will speak the loudest and the clearest.
The Latin translation of the title is ‘Elements Are Beautiful’, which I chose as the elements are essentially what makes our world what it is. I guess this suggests very clearly that I think this world is very beautiful, even much of the things that we might inherently find ugly or revolting; they all need each other to coexist in many ways, much like how in the world of physics there is a reaction to an action; the entirety of the physical and metaphysical world are subjected to the same whims.
This track’s title translates to ‘information received through the senses and arising in thoughts’. This track precedes a shift in the general hopeful, yet forlorn amalgamation of moods.
It is an intentionally paranoid, syncopated excursion that implies the descent out of clarity and into discombobulation of the mind. I tried to make it feel confusing in this sense as it does still carry with it a sense of liveliness, rather like the sensual, materialistic gratifications that can momentarily but sometimes destructively pull us further away from being able to gain a sense of mastery over ourselves. This to me is suggestive of the dichotomy of spiritualism and materialism, two worlds I find myself a part of that struggle with each other everyday. I see how each world can be harnessed and bought into our lives but feel that there is great risk in falling too heavily into reliance on the sensual world to make us feel alive.
There is a deceptive quality to such types of gratification abused as they often don’t immediately begin to make it apparent how they are damaging us, hence the danceable, yet jarring nature that the track reeks of.
This collaboration with my friend Nico (Superficie’s last track under this alias) is the darkest venture on the whole release. It is hollow, dry and desolate; an empty space that cannot be satisfied. Cavernam, or cavern in English, is my personification of the hollow soul – a hungry mouth desperate to be fed yet unable to be satisfied and content with what it has.
It resembles the mindset of one who perceives the world as being against them or alternatively someone who feels that they need external consumption of energy to gratify their inner landscape, not realising that such a feeling of being whole can come from within.
This observation carries no judgement with it; according to my thoughts it isn’t often anyone’s fault that they feel this way or look at the world through this lens. It is however their fundamental responsibility first and foremost to take charge of this skewed sense of self, and I feel like this is the baseline route to a better world for all of us.
To me, to temper the ravenous desire of this cavernous hole is through exploration, love, patience and understanding for yourself, which inadvertently can provide a greater capacity to see the same potential for this internal longing to exist in others and thus allow for the same care to be given them as well.
(U Are) Beautiful
Once again we return to the underlying sense of hope that trickles through the majority of the album on this one. I like to think of this piece as a personification of the vulnerability > strength potential that we all carry within us. The first half of the track is a swelling, building flow of myriad emotions that take place on what should be a gentle, careful dive into the depths of our own abyss.
It intensifies and grows, momentarily giving a sign of what our potential can be, steadily declining as the crescendo of raw, true emotion begins to settle. We can become accustomed to ourselves and how we work, actively transcending aspects of our lives we find difficult to become who we are meant to be. The latter half of the track brings forth the energy and strength that we can present to the world through the immense use of our time we can invest in helping ourselves. I don’t know how many dancehall tracks do this but I hope mine isn’t the only one!
Essentially this is a tribute to you, the reader, the listener, the human being. You are a beautiful person who deserves to be loved, by others and especially yourself. You should know this and thus this song now exists.
A final huzzah that is an all-out percussive assault accompanied by a reprise of the title track’s most acute sense of my unifying of optimism and pessimism. I decided to take the title track of the album and offer it one last time as a reminder of the core message I have tried to convey on the album: You are not alone with the perplexing sense of this complicated, vast world that we are thrust into.
The world can feel endlessly scary at times and I don’t doubt that there are many parts that are awful about some of our lived experiences. Our world can always be a better place and it is worth striving to do something, even the smallest little thing you could even imagine, to sculpt it into a place that allows for people to feel connected to it more and more. We don’t need to do great feats or be remembered by the whole world, it is to me more about finding a way to connect yourself to the frequency of our world by transcending the feedback loops of suffering that can keep you from moving forward.
This is more about everyone rather than myself, I have realised. It is about understanding yourself so that you can understand others, and finally feel the connection that binds yourself to everything else around you so that you can truly see how beautiful everything can really be. We are all fundamentally the same thing and all from the same source of life, all at the mercy of adversity, isolation, cruelty and hatred, whilst also capable of witnessing beauty, companionship, understanding and love. We all have the potential to tend to the flame inside of us so that we can truly emit a brightness that might allow for another to begin the same journey.
‘Pulchra Es Elementis‘ is out now on Vinyl and Digital.