– THE PEACEFUL PROTEST –
Keaton Henson is dead. Long live Keaton Henson.
The Londoner’s transformation from folk troubadour to ambient / classical composer reaches completion on ‘Initium’. And while his death as a guitar-slinging, three-chords-and-the-truth kinda guy may well have been slow it was very far from painful.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the strummed chords and lilting melodies of 2010’s ‘Dear’ but his collaboration with cellist Ren Ford on 2014’s ‘Romantic Works’ and, further, his beautiful 2017 single ‘Epilogue’ hinted ever more strongly that this was the path Henson was on and it’s a path I’m personally far more energised by.
‘Initium’ feels like that path’s logical destination. More Jherek Bischoff than Jonah Matranga, the single is the first movement from a symphonic suite entitled ‘Six Lethargies’, which was jointly commissioned by the Barbican, Vivid Sydney and National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Debuted in July 2018 at the Barbican Centre and subsequently performed in Dublin and Sydney in 2019, the 70-minute work is now due for release on record.
Performed, here, by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (conducted by Mark Knoop), don’t let its quiet wordlessness fool you; this is a track that communicates a great deal of sorrow and pain in an understated way.
Henson is known to suffer from anxiety and, as a result, rarely plays live and, for him, the whole work of art – video (above) included – is a representation of that condition.
Speaking about the video Henson has said; “[it] is a visual representation of the unrelenting struggle to see past current traumas, and the desperate attempt to keep your head above water… in spite of being so seemingly simple, when watched fully can be profoundly moving, as a perfect expressionistic representation of a human’s desperate attempts to stay afloat and breathe among the chaos.”
‘Six Lethargies’ will be released on 25 October through Mercury Classics.
MORE FROM THIS WEEK’S MIX
SAULT: SMILE AND GO
EARTHGANG: BLUE MOON
DANIEL CASIMIR & TESS HIRST: SECURITY
PENGUIN CAFÉ: CHAPTER
P.S. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.
If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.
– SV –