Sad Sad Movie: A Reflection on the Music of Kevin Moore

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Melancholy (NOUN) — A feeling of pensive sadness, typically with no obvious cause:
‘an air of melancholy surrounded him’
‘he had an ability to convey a sense of deep melancholy and yearning through much of his work’
‘at the centre of his music lies a profound melancholy and nostalgia’ (Oxford)

Certain words mean more than others. They affect us in ways that we can’t always express in verbal reciprocation. Beauty and filth, woven in tapestries that are combinations of letters on a page, conjure in our minds both what the author intended and what the author could never have foreseen. We are individuals, with a vast plethora of individual experience, emotion, understanding, beliefs, and memory, and our response to a piece of art will be deeply individual. And yet our individuality manifests itself in community, for in our personal response we desire the understanding of others, and share our thoughts and impressions with them.

“What is the Absolute? Something that appears to us in fleeting experiences–say, through the gentle smile of a beautiful woman, or even through the warm caring smile of a person who may otherwise seem ugly and rude. In such miraculous but extremely fragile moments, another dimension transpires through our reality. As such, the Absolute is easily corroded; it slips all too easily through our fingers and must be handled as carefully as a butterfly.”  — Slavoj Žižek

Humanity’s relationship with art has been fraught with argument and conflict, as is much of our interaction. Art is a mode of communication, sometimes verbal, and sometimes not. Yet our understanding thereof is not diminished by the presence or absence of words; it is simply different. We express our experience of art in community through words, or through a reactionary piece of art, but the art itself is the most truly experienced and understood in the individual. A verbal description does not suffice to capture the beauty of the Sagrada Familia, nor do pictures replicate a physical participation.

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music . . . And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.’” — Søren Kierkegaard

Music exists in dichotomy; it is strongly personal yet deeply collective. We care so much about how a particular combination of notes affects us that we actively attempt to convince others that they ought to feel the same. Some music can move a room of individuals to dance with no reserve; some music is best understood by oneself, brought to tears by a haunting, inexplicable beauty. It is a language in and of itself, and it speaks to us in a way no other form of art can.

“Shadows of shadows passing. It is now 1831, and as always I am absorbed with a delicate thought. It is how poetry has indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential. Since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception, music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry. Music without the idea is simply music. Without music or an intriguing idea, colour becomes pallor, man becomes carcass, home becomes catacomb, and the dead are but for a moment motionless.” — Edgar Allan Poe

I desire music to affect me. I want to be moved in my active participation with music, and to come out of my engagement altered. Whether that reality manifests itself in an excitement, a contentment, or a deep sense of sadness I care not; I simply care that it does something to me. However, I often find myself gravitating towards the melancholy, towards a deliberate immersion in an ineffable depression. This tendency is inexplicable even to myself, but I am drawn to unhappiness in art by an irresistible force of will. Perhaps it reminds me that I am small. It may connect me, for a moment, to the realization of my own mortality. It is clear that I am unable to articulate what it is that connects me so deeply with sorrow, but it is equally as clear that I am deeply connected.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.” — Victor Hugo

To this end, the work of Kevin Moore has satisfied this odd desire. Immersed in his music, I feel a calm despondency, as though I recognized the existence of sadness and would embrace it but for the numbness of my senses. Moore’s compositions envelope the listener in a calm state of melancholic heartbreak, inviting them into a world where depression and apathetic existentialism walk hand in hand through a perpetual twilight hue. Throaty and emotive, Moore’s voice softly sings of loves lost, buried in the past but not forgotten — never forgotten. Shifting moods and dynamics pull welcoming ears across the calm waves of music, as intimate as a puddle and as vast and empty as the ocean. In his music is a contented detachment, a relaxed understanding of the incongruity of life with no desire for its change, a simple acceptance of melancholy as a part of that existence.

“Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain.” — G.K. Chesterton

There is great joy to be had in the world, and great sadness. To try and exist in a happy medium I do not believe is the answer to this; rather, we need a deeper love and a deeper hate. “We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.” (Chesterton) But knowing this, I think allowing oneself to slip into states of periodic disengagement reveals a certain perspective on life and existence, one that is impossible to articulate, but is an experience that can be shared by all.

 

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  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    the way that the masons deal with poetry–is of it being the natural speech,song–of pan–

    who feeds off “wine,women,and song”—-like as his air

    it’s kind of weird to look at jim morrison–with that in mind–i guess hank wiliams sr was kind of on that level

    eternal reward—beyond “religion”—yet many swear that it is the “actual” or only religion possible–in this world

    fearless

    • Howard Dean

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz is a freemason. He supports the NWO and Ordo Templi Orientis. Rumor has it he was at the meeting of the Learned Elders of Zion, too. Have proof, but I can’t share it here.

      He has this tattoo on his arm.

      http://cdn.instructables.com/FTW/4C8R/G7DYQ8CH/FTW4C8RG7DYQ8CH.MEDIUM.gif

    • DDubya.

      Not gonna lie, I’ve always been super curious about the Masons.

      • KJM
      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        i was giving props to the “night of pan”–with the compliments—not “the masons”–

        the “fuel of the gods”–but masons are pretty interesting

        • DDubya.

          *googling night of pan

          • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

            i just looked at the wikipedia one—-fuck that “ego death ” shit—thats propaganda—-it’s about an ego just a little bigger than the existing universe–also there’s chicks and booze

          • The chicks and booze have me intrigued.

          • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

            constant fuel—wine women and song—followed—even beyond the rational laws of the universe—-art—–awakening—-the edge of perception—-always —-perfect—-and the secret of darkness

      • Scrimm

        My great grandparents were involved in that. The rings are still in the famiy.

    • JWG

      I don’t know much about masons, but I do like Wide Mouth Mason(s)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QtpMryT4Gs

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atcniej5eVE

  • Mr.Custodial Arts

    Hey there buffalo, as RONNIE JAMES DIO would say-“LOOK OUT!!!” Chris Black is comin’ for you, gonna bop you on the head with a big ol’ hammah!
    http://media.tumblr.com/f06237727a1f73861a03f2afd3528fd8/tumblr_inline_ne5oyfuC9M1rts4n8.jpg

  • CT-12

    Nice gonzo spirit to this article GuacJim, feels fitting though for the music accompanying. Interesting stuff right here, some of it seems so fragile and ethereal, like the notes could disappear into thin air. Thanks for sharing.

  • Stockhausen

    That Kierkegaard quote is heavy. So is this entire post. Excellent wordsmithing Guacamole, I’ve got a lot of listening to do today.

    • Guacamole Jim

      That particular Kierkegaard quote was shown to me by a very good friend/mentor at a particularly formative time in my life, and, though I can’t really explain why, it’s impacted me deeply ever since.

  • Sad music makes me happy in a sad way and sad in a happy way. If that makes any sense.

    • CT-12

      Totally know what you mean. For me, I think it has something to do with that glimpse of hope I feel that someone else has been in my shoes and has had to deal with bullshit in their life as well, and that there is a way to move on. *and queue the “WORSHIP DEATH, FUCK HOPE, HAIL THE VOID!” replies*

      • Scrimm

        “WORSHIP DEATH, FUCK HOPE, HAIL THE VOID!”

        • CT-12

          hahahahaha, I’m actually so happy that someone ended up saying it

          • Scrimm

            Glad to be of service.

          • DDubya.

            Alternatively, “DISMISS THIS LIFE! WORSHIP DEATH!”

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            This is the only response that matters, to any question.

          • Scrimm

            I’m deep in writing mode to finish up the lyrics before I start tracking and I am coincidentally working on a song call The Void right now(Had the song well before the Toilet), So I am very much in that mindset right now.

          • Or my personal favorite, “Kill your family, die in obscvrity.”

    • Steven Wilson said it well(ish) in one of his many rambling interview responses:

      “For me it’s mostly those crystallized moments of melancholy which are more inspirational to me. And in a strange way they become quite beautiful in their own way. Music that is sad, melancholic, depressing, is in a kind of perverse way more uplifting. I find happy music extremely depressing, mostly – mostly quite depressing. It’s particularly this happy music that has no spirituality behind it – if it’s just sort of mindless party music, it’d be quite depressing. But largely speaking, I was the kind of person that responds more to melancholia, and it makes me feel good. And I think the reason for this is, I think if you respond strongly to that kind of art, it’s because in a way it makes you feel like you’re not alone. So when we hear a very sad song, it makes us realise that we do share this kind of common human experience, and we’re all kind of bonded in sadness and melancholia and depression.”

    • Tyree
  • JamesGrimm
  • JamesGrimm
  • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

    This is a good article. For I have always thought the greatest beauty and thought lies in sorrow of a heavy mind. For all joy is fleeting and will not last, as does the soul-crunching solitude and melancholy that follows.

    *clap, clap, clap*

  • Mother Shabubu III
  • YourLogicIsFlushed

    Cool stuff, I found OSI many years ago while I was a DT fan, because I think Portnoy was involved somehow? Always dug the morose vibe of it. Never listened to any Chroma Key until now.

    • Guacamole Jim

      You’re right; it was originally a side project between Portnoy and Matheos, and Kevin Moore became involved after. Portnoy eventually left, because he found Moore too depressing and difficult to work with, but Matheos and Moore kept going (Portnoy appeared as a session musician on the second album, and then Gavin Harrison on the third and fourth).

      • YourLogicIsFlushed

        Oh cool, I had no idea Harrison was involved in those. I only really know the first two, I will check out the more recent ones.

  • DDubya.

    Beautiful

    • Guacamole Jim

      Thanks, Dubyah.

  • Scrimm

    Sad now….

  • Very well done, Glock Jim.

  • Tyree

    Damn, I shall return for this in an hour or so Dip. Printer problems at work here that I have to attend to, fuck off printer!!!

    http://www.electronicproducts.com/uploadedImages/Packaging_and_Hardware/Prototyping_Tools_Equipment_Services/Office%20Space%20Gif.gif

    • Howard Dean

      PC load letter?! What the fuck!

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        Scarface in a soundtrack, fucking gangster shit>>>>>

        • YourLogicIsFlushed

          Mike Judge>>>

          • MoshOff

            Anybody watch the first season of Silicon Valley? I really liked it.

          • YourLogicIsFlushed

            It’s so great. That last episode had me in tears.

          • MoshOff

            Dude, the dick handling equation thing is one of the funniest things I’ve seen recently.

          • Lacertilian

            Shame about http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0919525/?ref_=tt_cl_t6 dying during the season.
            Peter Gregory was one of my favourite characters in the show.

          • Lacertilian

            I heard the hype train in the lead up to the first episode.
            Then I hopped right on that shit, Mike Judge never fails.
            TJ Miller cracks me up.

        • DDubya.

          “Back up in your ass with the resurrection!”

        • Edward/Breegrodamus

          damn it feels good to be a gangsta

  • KJM

    Cos it’s die motherfucker die motherfucker still fool

  • MoshOff

    Dream Theater’s decline started when Kevin Moore left, he is definitely a creative force to be reckoned with. Very, very good writeup, GJ.

  • Howard Dean

    Well done, Guac.

    I’ve always found music that is seemingly “unintentionally” sad to be the most powerful. A lot of bands in metal, like Shining (the Swedish one), Woods of Ypres, and a slew of DSBM bands try to make their sound intentionally melancholic and sad, and for me, it just feels stale and tacky. When it feels like a band’s goal is to be the “most depressing and darkest” it feels corny to me. That’s why for me stuff like Drudkh has always had the most profound impact.

    Music and its effect on the psyche is objective and personal, of course. Stuff that wouldn’t normally feel melancholic can destroy when administered at the right (wrong?) time.

    • BLXKKBEXRD

      Ghost Bath are my new favorite in this, my most coveted genre

    • Good point. Timing is probably the primary factor in whether or not a person has a lasting impact with piece of music. Regardless of genre, I would say.

      • Howard Dean

        I would upvote your comment if the upvote feature were working for me.

      • DDubya.

        Bingo. I think we can all think of certain albums that have emotional resonance with us because of where and when we heard them. NIN always reminds me of my awful summer living in ABQ and that period of battling depression.

        • There is a ton of really embarrassing music I still listen to for this very reason.

          • Guacamole Jim

            I will still, from time to time, put on Razolblade Romance by HIM and remember junior high, being a gangly, awkward, teenager, eating my heart out over girls I was too scared to talk to.

    • Tyree

      Check out Kathryn Joseph Howard from my last post.

    • Ever listen to Sparklehorse?

  • Tyree

    This is pretty radical stuff Dip! I’m chillin.

    • Guacamole Jim

      I’m glad you dig it, dude!!

      • Tyree

        I really like the song “Shine”. Definitely going to look further into this stuff.

      • i love this stuff, Gluac Jim!

        have you heard of a band called Creeper Lagoon? they released an excellent album called “I Become Small and Go” in 98, and Chroma Key reminds me very much of that album. especially the vox.

  • I am 33 upvotes from 10,000.

    Lets do this.

    GL

    • BLXKKBEXRD

      I’m on it, GL

    • DDubya.

      I shall join you in your quest for glory.

    • Tyree

      Downvoted.

    • JWG

      I’m less worried about total upvotes than I am trying to keep my average above 2 per post.

      I’m quite certain I have at least that many downvotes currently in hiding. I want to remain basically neutral when or if they come back.

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        I wish they counted downvotes. Probably higher than my upvotes. That’s fucking kvlt.

        • Lacertilian

          I guess I’m nearing kvlt status.
          Due to the time difference the only people who see my posts are those who I have directly replied to and the late lurkers.
          #DyingInObscurity.

          • Late lurker reporting. This is my time to wrap up site work and real life work for the day/get a little drunk.

          • Lacertilian

            And what does Papa Joe sup upont as a night-cap?

          • Beer! I love a nice IPA but I’ll drink the hell out of some cheap domestic crap. Ain’t picky. What’s on tap in Australia?

          • Lacertilian

            BE-ER.
            IPAs are right in my wheelhouse, after craftbrewing for years I became a raging hopaholic, but it’s mostly cheap domestic crap on tap here, a few good pubs in the city have top selections.
            Matilda Bay Alpha Pale Ale used to be my go-to but now most bottlos stock Sierra Nevada Torpedos which get me through.

          • Austin has an embarrassment of riches with beers now. The drugstore across the street even stocks the bigger micros along with some local stuff (if you ever get a chance to visit, Austin Beer Works makes some of the finest stuff). Still, sometimes I can’t deny the $7 sixer of macro water tallboys.

          • Lacertilian

            One of my best mates is getting married in Vegas soon (for lolbuttz purposes), he’s just booked a bit more of a holiday and is visiting Austin. I’ll send him in that direction.
            Do amarillo hops really grow in Amarillo?
            Surely it would be too hot, I could google this but I want the truth instead.

          • I’d sincerely doubt it. I don’t think much grows in Amarillo.

          • Lol, I remember the free tasting stands at the liquor store near my place back home. I’d drink 2 of each of the fancy and local wines, liquors, and beers, and always go “oh, I’ll get some next time”. Then head straight for the Schlitz, Seagram’s gin, or Canadian Reserve.
            Good lordy, they almost always had the finest looking chicks possible working those stands!

    • People keep track of their upvotes? News to me!

      • Chillin’ Is My Business…

        Down voted for ignorance…

  • Scrimm

    Badass. first time trying the youtube gif maker. http://share.gifyoutube.com/vnjxEr.gif