Nell, an indie rock band, can always make masterpieces that makes me feel like I’m free from gravity into space. Their songs are often repetitive in main melodies, but with different layering of sub-melodies, undertones and instruments, making their every single song a kaleidoscope. The more I listen to Nell, the more crazily wonderful details and feelings I find hiding behind the repetitive melodies.
Today I’m going to talk about “Haven” from Nell’s EP “Escaping Gravity”.
“Haven” gives me goose bumps through its contradiction and its beauty in representing the inner state of “me”, who’s in a depression and seeks suicide as his “haven”, in my opinion. The thought of suicide is normally considered terrible, however, in this song, I can feel the perverse beauty Nell created on suicide.
“Haven” starts with electrical synth sound effect that’s almost chaotic due to the treble noise. This resembles the pain that he’s in. However, along with the chaotic synth sound there are other synth sounds that sound faraway and somewhat heaven-like, which perversely rationalize the chaotic feeling and even creates beauty in the darkness. This contradiction depicts the inner state of “me”, who’s in despair, however calm and peaceful.
Later at the bridge, the electrical synth was replaced by clear piano sound, creating a contrasting image between the dark chaos “I” is suffering and the “haven” in his heart. It seems as if he sees light from the bottom of his heart, a “heaven”, a solution, a way out. Then synth sounds add back in layers, with the drum beats creating a sense of fighting up and running toward the “light”. However, the solution is not “heaven”, because heaven is too good for darkness. We don’t know what this “haven” is, until the second half of the song, when “I” shouts out “Well, now it’s time stop. Just pull the trigger.” According to Christian beliefs, those who commit suicide cannot go to heaven, for “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). Therefore this is not “heaven”, but a “haven”, somewhere he can expose himself frankly without being afraid to show his own flaws, burdens, and sins. “I” whispers: “Don’t cry over me”, because though he dies, he has found peace – yes, he found peace, in this seemingly apparently depressing way.
The undertone of the song is gloomy and chaotic, but it somehow also shows hope through the instruments, the whispering, and the shouting. The song is contradictory, for it finds hope in despair, it soothes while depresses; for it presents light in darkness; for it shows peace in chaos, it presents beauty in suicide. This aesthetic expression reminds me of Junichiro Tanizaki (谷崎潤一郎)‘s style of writing: unpleasant, but beautiful.
*All rights related to the picture, the video and the song reserved to rightful owners. All rights related to the writing reserved to Asian Music Invasion.