May 18, 2018
The break-up album has become something of a cliché in the music world. An artist goes through a difficult separation, immerses themself into their work, and comes out with some of the darkest, most honest and often most heralded music of their careers. (Need some examples? This article provides a good crash course.) Audiences tend to focus on the lyrical aspects of these albums, as the musician lays bare their emotional trauma and tries to find a way to the other side. And that’s what makes Simon SMTHNG’s latest album you will know fear stand out from the rest: it brings the listener through that emotional journey without the aid of lyrical content to provide any context.
Simon is a Producer/DJ from the Queen City who has recently experienced a particularly difficult break-up. Coming out of this trying time, he wanted to create something to “convey the emotions involved with progressing through the obstacles that life presents.” He produced you will know fear, a 10-track exploration into the musician’s psyche. The sorrow on this album is palpable, but enough light and joy manages to creep its way in to show that there is hope and closure at the end of difficulty.
SMTHNG seems to be in an almost meditative state on these songs. The tracks start with short loops that stay relatively unchanged over the course of the songs. Melody lines and instrumental flourishes weave in and out of these compositions, but the beat always remains steady and true. This creates perfect mood music; you can let the music wash over you as you get lost in your thoughts.
On “Ascension,” Simon partnered with director Hnin Nie to create an enthralling audio/visual experience. The music is some of the most subdued, nuanced work on the album, as it carries the listener on little more than sparse guitar, drums, bass, and handclaps. The additional embellishments found throughout the rest of the album are all but missing on this track, creating a beautiful background for the accompanying video. Nie transports the viewer deep into the woods, as Makena Mambo confronts multiple versions of herself. The video is striking and full of absolutely gorgeous shots.
“Fireworks,” the final track, contains some of the most interesting moments from the album. It’s one of the brightest and most hopeful tracks, with jangly guitars and victorious horns, but halfway through, it collapses into itself and changes into a dark, chaotic atmosphere as someone utters “there’s nothing wrong with being afraid.” It’s a rousing conclusion, as he appears to have found joy in the end, also accepting his fear and pain.
Listen to you will know fear by Simon SMTHNG is available on all platforms.