The phrase “Leave, by Sadness” immediately conjures images of shallow mall-goth kitsch, but within seconds of clicking play, listeners will realize the album’s grainy city photograph conceals a deep midnight sky of black emotion. Listeners, Leave digs deep into you. Leave uproots your sorrows and bids you suffer them afresh.
A ten-minute introductory track, “The untouchable words between,” sets the stage with hollow uncertain synths, faltering, droning, until shoving listeners into a sleet-storm of modulated (screams?) and a relentless backdrop of melancholy guitar. The storm fades, but not before numbing us to the bone; not before chilling our souls to absolute zero in preparation for what is to come.
“______” opens more traditionally, a break in the clouds, a hint at sunlight? No, the dark thunderheads surge again, and amidst lightning that flashes but never strikes, the cold wind howls. You know now the forlorn chorus that seems to sing from every direction at once. Tragic, yet triumphant, the dead themselves raise their voices in a disarming synchrony. Listeners fall to their knees. A crisis begins.
The storm passed, the lucid electronics of “To stay” signal an incipient transformation. Catharsis, not yet arrived, is nonetheless expected. When the real music hits, we are ready, even eager for it to sweep us away. The beautiful rage takes hold, and by the passion’s gentle end listeners find themselves having climbed a vast mountain — tear-stained cheeks and sore muscles, crystal-clear views of achingly gorgeous million-year-old carved terrain greened over with chaos.
All is silent. Gentle piano guides the sun below the pinking horizon of “Te amé” [“I loved you”]. Regal white clouds, those same which drenched us, sail weightlessly — but not without gravity — into the sunset. Our eyes empty of tears, our hearts wrung and tired, we enjoy still thoughtlessness for an unknown period of time. Stars speckle the sky, though we cannot remember them appearing. All is dark again — night. Reality sets in. We crash once again into a screaming fury, the irrational denial of the grieving — but no storm comes. No cold rain falls. We descend into a prison of pain, one of our own making, ourselves both captor and captive, flaggelator and martyr, deceased and bereaved. Our heads in our knees, tears springing anew from hidden reservoirs, we are ravaged by the reality of what we have yet to accept. Piece by piece, our fortress falls. We scream into the night’s placid majesty; we are met with only our echo. Our ember burns out around the thirteenth minute.
And yet, our journey is not yet complete. The way down the mountain must be walked. We resign to trudge our way down, not knowing what we are about to find. The timid entry of “Encontrarnos” belies the intensities seething just below its surface, those toxic venoms which only evacuate the body through gradual, painful excretion; beneficial hurt; helpful harms. Our pace picks up; we race spring-creeks to jagged crag-edges. Somewhere along the way, something within us changes.
Leaves have color, although sharp. Birdsong melodies may not lift your spirit, but they move it — and us. A stop along a ridgeside allows us to contemplate the world with a sober heart. There is a harsh beauty to this universe, a beauty impossible without immense sacrifice, a point of negentropy that necessitates powerful entropy gradients in every other direction. Evanescent perfection.
We return to the real — or rather, the mundane. Surreal pretensions, the everyday. We go through the motions. We manage. But something inside of us is different. Drums sound a steady beat, piano plays its comfortable depression, but in the distance, the howls. The howls. A demon is inside us; a tumor — a void — a wormhole to the Other, where They still wait for us to cross over on our last day.
Encontrarnos — “Find us”. A message from the departed — _we miss you_. A reminder — _memento mori_. Exhortation, not to seek the oblivion of death, but to discover in life the things that made them live, the roaring, blistering violence that animates everything we touch, everything that touches us. Life, made possible by the promise of death. A Faustian deal none of us consciously made, but one that we might make again. Fade to black — but not yet…