The Agonising Paradox
“Letting Go”1 promises deliverance but embraces sweet enthralment. In a piece just under two minutes long, nearly half of which is devoted to a playground field recording over which a wistful synthesiser presides, a sorrowful melody briefly loops, then disappears.
The theme here is not “abandon”; there is no celebration as the title suggests, only “longing”—for connection, intimacy and approval. If there is a “letting go”, it is unwilling and temporary—the artist’s pain is comforting and familiar to him; his grief, consoling.
Consequently, he presents it to us in a disarming, innocent and sympathetic melody wrapped in a misleading title and nostalgic cover art. This is not deception, however, but a raw exploration of an inner conflict: the paradox of loving our psychological afflictions.
The Beautiful Mirage
“Longing” is reflected in the black and white cover image: the children, a symbol of blissful abandon, run away from the photographer. The melancholy picture, the ephemeral field recording and the plaintive melody all suggest that peace to the artist is unattainable.
He knows the darkness from which his composition emerges—too well to truly let it go. Like the tune, he wants to be optimistic, but in a minor key—his despairing sense of life—struggles to be so. Artist and artwork, by their very nature, resign to despondency.
For as long as this resignation lasts, the music rises in a slow and desolate pitch, reaching for a beauty beyond its grasp whilst mournful synthesised voices yearn for salvation and joy. Yet they will not tear themselves from the shadows and ultimately fade away.
“Letting Go” glimpses beauty, but it is a mirage to the artist; or perhaps the artist is a mirage to it, for he needs it to be . . . distant . . . justifying his unwillingness to seize it. Still, we shall not rush to blame him; what, after all, is more terrifying to the wretched than joy?
- “Letting Go” by Distant