Some Art and Some of Its Uses
One of the useful things about art is that it allows one to experience directly the goings on in other people’s heads.
Life, to me, is joy. There is no other way for me to conceive of it.
I once suffered pain severe enough that I would rather have died than to have ever experienced it (at the time, anyway; now, I’ll just say I’d rather die than ever experience it again)—yet, although I cannot put it into prose, it was still a wonderful, fascinating and, above all, joyous experience that I cannot help but rejoice in and be thankful for.
And so it is that very few of my fellow humans make much sense to me. (As I assume, perhaps erroneously, I don’t to others.)
Depression, for instance, seems a state of affairs of the mind so strange that it could not exist! (Note: I am not suggesting that it does not exist; merely that if I were to be DSM’d, I’d be a mani[a]c.) Luckily, Sylvia Plath wrote Ariel: a book of poems that take what would be for me a series of interesting sensory misperceptions and amusing social mishaps, and presents them in such a way that I am able to understand that to others they would be so terrible that suicide would be the only rational response. And yet, perhaps I am not quite as deranged as I first thought, for Sylvia Plath rejoices in death—but how could a poet, or any other artist, not be a being composed entirely of light and joy, even if they find such things blinding and obliterating?
Sadistik, a rapper, was also moved by Sylvia Plath. Like Sylvia Plath, and unlike myself, he’s also a bit of a miserable fellow, so must have found in her poetry a value other than didacticism. Perhaps it was another of art’s (particularly poetry’s) great values that attracted him to her poetry: illuminating that which one does understand, but in ways that one would not articulate oneself, thus both expanding on the potential power of one’s own brain, and the understanding of others’.
On the chorus of Koi, for instance, he renders the bittersweet way in which the dead haunt the living with several simple metaphors, jangling together discordantly; like a wind chime dancing in his breath: “Your scent lingers like orange peels, it’s still your face when I see reflections, it cuts me open like koi gills, underneath the mask is flammable like an oil field, still”. The first verse prosaically laments the loss of the joy he gave his father and the loss of the strength he himself found in him—this is the bitterness of the haunting. The second verse is devoted, equally prosaically, to the sweetness: the joys of memories and the volition to act on that which was learnt from the living and the immortality that these grant to the dead—until the grieving also die, of course. And so the chorus returns again; uniting both the bitterness and the sweetness of being haunting by the dead.
Sistine Chapel contains an even more beautiful ode to the memory, this time that of romantic love:
“When everything I do, is stained in blue, I Vincent Van Gogh; all these memories of you paint my skull in Sistine Chapel art.”
There’s actually a similar line in a One Direction song about the brain being tattooed, but that’s more a brutal than beautiful image. Don’t ask me how I know this.
The music is just as vivid as the lyrics. On Saints, Michelle Kim’s violin is not forced to reduce its melody to fit a phrase or two of the beat’s percussion but is given the freedom to accompany the beat during the verses in an airy manner, while progressively building over the song into a melody that dominates the beat by the end of the second verse in something akin to a crescendo! And when it fits, such as on Man’s Best Friend, her violin is used in a more conservative way: a short, building melody (as if it were a sample) “bridging” the two verses and leading seamlessly into a rollicking beat switch up for the climax.
This attention to detail isn’t limited to the beats, but also Sadistik’s flow which has developed over his last two projects (the Salo Sessions) into such verbal virtuosity that he now sounds as at home over a trap beat as he used to over underground production, giving him the versatility to properly complement such beautiful and finely detailed production.