There are records you listen to for entertainment. There are records you listen to for support. There are records you listen to for the experience, and then there are records that you experience. Non Fiction by Death Blues, which is a musical project from multi-instrumentalist Jon Mueller, is one of those albums you experience, and if you look deep enough it just might change how you view experimental music, or even life afterwards. Non-Fiction is made up of two compositions Are and Do.
Are begins with a pounding, tribal drumbeat. Very shamanistic, and fitting as this comes across to me as the soundtrack to a death. Drums keep the pace frantic, as shouted chants echo throughout the speakers almost as if guiding the soul out of the body and into the next world. This leaves the listener really feeling like you are bearing witness to an actual death ritual or exorcism. What I find interesting about the piece is that it seems to come from two points of view, the one of the shaman performing the ritual, and the one of the individual whom is in the throes of death. Chaos continues throughout the remainder of Are, never letting up, and providing an atmosphere of pure other worldly-ness.
Do begins slower with hammering guitars that would not sound out of place on a Godflesh record. Drums come in, with more of a steady beat, before peaceful chanted vocals swoop in. This is a stark contrast to the chaos of Are and makes me think of acceptance of what is happening, coming to terms with mortality, and letting go of the self. This leads in to more “understandable vocals” while the drums and guitar continue the same pace and riff, the almost shouted qualities actually take you away from the previous tracks intensity and adds a more human element to what before seemed more spiritual. While Are seems to be the chaos side, Do most defiantly comes across as the more structured side, however still maintaining the same intensity just channeled differently.
Non-Fiction is out on the Sige records which have a history of putting out very eclectic releases over its short life span. Non-Fiction is the third part of the larger Death Blues project. This record truly explores music as an art, not prepackaged entertainment. There is intent, and there is purpose with each beat of the drum, strum of the guitar, and each chant of the voice. With any piece of art I feel it is the individual experiencing it to take away their own personal meaning behind it, instead of being told everything up front. With Non-Fiction you are able to experience it, and let your imagination take over. This is not music to drive down the road to, or throw on to have a few beers too. This is music you truly need to experience, to take in. Lie in front of the speakers and just allow yourself to become completely wrapped in the sonic experience being projected. Non-Fiction demands your attention, and you get a very intense listen in return.
Scribed by: Jason Fincher