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Depression, its difficulties and effects are a common theme for artists. As if the severity of their incurable trouble needed its own expression. Or as if the burden of their talent cut through their skin and forced the artist to materialize its heaviness. It's hard to say what was first and uncover the causality between mood's disorder or depression and the art. Reading through Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe or listening to Portishead evokes the idea that depression and unusual gift for art come hand in hand. They stimulate to awesome results and then destroy the artist.

Depression is the main theme of Daniel Thomas Freeman's debut album The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself. Right from the beginning – even before hearing its first tones – the name shows the complicated relationship between the illness and the patient. Freeman, who was suffering from strong depression for many years, tries to find a beauty in his distress. On one side this may be a strange form of dolorism, but I rather suspect that the name of his album expresses his effort to look back into the years of the greatest suffering with detachment. As if he was saying that those times were hard, almost impossible to live through, but the life was his very own and will never be substituted for something better.

Elegy And Rapture (For Margaret) is the penultimate track on The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself and its most straightforward. Freeman as a one third of ambient-drone outfit Rameses III is well-experienced in compiling thick layers of heavy drone and layering abstract noises into the beds of classical samples. Yet this composition is much more accessible and in one word: graceful. The initial murmur of a steady strings' harmony induces peaceful atmosphere which is later evolved by a short fragment of a melody played by a duo of violins. The pulse of the horn in the background along with the tender reverberated guitar evoke the milder work of Canadian-born eclectic composer Kyle Bobby Dunn. The calm tranquility of Elegy And Rapture (For Margaret) amazingly reflects its main message: Freeman's dedication to the late years of his mother who died more than ten years ago. Even though this ten minutes long composition is the most traditional piece on the entire album it's an experience of mysterious serenity and mournful splendour. Still, The Beauty Of Doubting Yourself deserves your full attention since it's one of the most emotional and complex experimental records this year.

Tomas Slaninka
Tuesday 9 August 2011

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