Daniel Thomas Freeman - The Beauty of Doubting Yourself
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As one third of Rameses III Daniel Thomas Freeman has contributed to the band's surging orchestral drones, viscerally alive with raw energy all framed in a kind of faded vintage imagery. Their full lengths have seen releases on Type, Digitalis and Important Records. The pinnacle of which can be argued to be 'I could not love you more', seeing a real blending of their acoustic guitar, Mellotrons and electric pianos elements into a blurred fabric; romantically nostalgic and hauntingly beautiful.
'The Beauty of Doubting Yourself' sees a release on Home Normal, and documents six years of Freeman's experience with depression and coming out the other side of it. The emotion it covers - anxiety, fear, self-doubt - has a story arc which starts amongst the darkest moments of Freeman's mental state 'Dark House Walk' and works through each track towards feelings of hope, resolution, and catharsis - 'Staring into the Light'.
The 25 minute long behemoth 'Staring into Black Water' is a thing of real beauty. Dark drones, skittering clicks, blacker than the blackest black which swirl as if Freeman is bending air particles with magnetic fields, coursing with the same grating energy that we heard on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume 2. Somewhere across the water we hear bird calls adding an atmosphere similar to Deaf Center's recent 'Owl Splinters' (a reference finding foundation elsewhere in the album for the cello playing for example on 'The Might of Angels') or Solo Andata's 'Ritual'. Ending with sounds recorded at Padstow Beach in Cornwall, on a day when the sea is as grey as the cloud heavy skies above it, the physicality of this track is humbling, like standing a top a mountain and looking down.
For a contrast, and change of pace, the title track presents irregular patterns of shimmering or rattling notes, hard to put your finger on exactly what the source or instrument is, but notably the melody and rhythm shifts in the layers in a similar sense to that of Boards of Canada's 'Zoetrope'. The electrical 'The Devil Would Steal Your Joy' features a chamber choir backdrop, followed by a track written for the artists' mother 'Elegy and Rapture (For Margaret)' - as if Freeman revisits past memories, events and inspirations to find resolutions. 'Staring into the Light' is a stirring finale, conveying the feeling of emergence and recovery.
As a description or account of the experience of being under 'depression', the beauty that has emerged in these tracks is exquisite. Freeman passes on the feeling of catharsis, and resolution of past demons; knowing that the un-mapped mind is a powerful entity, not to be ignored, or paraphrased into a single word such as depression. We clearly have another contender for album of the year.