Headache – Unrecorded
Displacement is a difficult sensation to convey using art most of the times. Feeling dislocated, out of your comfort zone can sometimes just be idiotic. But some more fortunate souls understand the nature of escapism—it’s not an art form, it is a way of getting inside art, seeing it firsthand. Curiously, escaping yourself, feeling displaced and alienized can feel rather therapeutic sometimes.
You let go your constant need for vigilance—in art, in your thoughts while you walk down the streets—and you hand it over to the master in control. In our case, it’s the music, the artist. The craft and prowess we don’t own at the moment.
Trupa Trupa’s new album, the aptly-titled Headache, draws heavily on these ideas. mixture of post-punk and industrialistic overtones, The Poland band’s sound and aesthetic is pessimist at heart: over the course of fifty minutes, the listener is thrown into the presence of unsettling imagery, where the lines between the music and its fans are blurry. In Headache, there is no idea of trusting the music and escaping yourself like in other pessimistic, death-obsessed post-punk music mainly because, by the time we hit play, there is no authority bestowed upon Trupa Trupa—we’re all together with them. We, the listeners.
This makes Headache’s speech towards life seem more believable, since Trupa Trupa’s music is in no way trying to sound comfortable. Lyrically, most of the album is pleased to be simple yet effective: “I will disappear” is the core verse off “Snow”, an almost upbeat track that gives us a false lead about that comes next.
If “Snow” gives us all the false leads, “Halleyesonme” is what the gets the album moving properly. A dark, slower, almost industrial song, it sets the mood of the entire album, proving the sound of this band can be more challenging than rewarding. A lot of Headache hints at its uncomfortable nature and the unsettling of the mind, even if lyrically they are still at some beginning stages of development. They make up this inexperienced lyricism by reaching new places of catharsis.
Although they are in a particularly great place lyrically, some of the lyrical contents can prove to be unexpectedly poignant: by making their approach to sludge rock and post-punk so simple and yet so effective, they reach a state where it is hard to even question their abilities without recognizing their astuteness. “Wasteland in my mouth”, they say, and the listener is caught while trying to pin down this existentialist take on capitalism and everything it brings with it.
Headache is, as said, pessimistic at heart, but probably for a good reason. By not providing the listener with any answers whatsoever, by preaching an uncomfortable way of life, by making unsettling post-punk music, Trupa Trupa foregoes its role as the “superior artist”, the band supposed to teach us something (or anything at all), which is why Headache is so surprisingly down to earth, sonically and lyrically speaking. And this is terrifying for the fan for a couple of reasons.
By making the listener dizzy, sometimes just numb because of the overwhelming nature of the songs, unaware of one’s own problem, most experimental music just hints at escapism as a way to promote itself (just like a drug, the listener wants music that helps that person to escape oneself). But what’s most stirring about Trupa Trupa’s recent output is that there’s a difference between their approach to escapism and everybody else’s: Trupa Trupa’s content is supposed to feel simple — the bridge between artist and listener starts eroding by the time we hit play. Since the first song, we’re with them. And that makes escapism literally impossible: where are we supposed to go when there’s no one in control, teaching us, provoking us? Headache gives us the tools, leaving us alone. It’s as cathartic as hell.
“Headache”, the song, slinks past the nine-minute mark, looming over the rest of the album. It’s also the best proposition the album offers us: it gets bigger and bigger, but somehow it doesn’t operate like a Faust piece of work, nor it’s as megalomaniacal as a Swans song. It’s still deeply humane, and everyone knows that God-like, gigantically sounding music without traces of arrogance is terrifying—because, well, a Swans song is supposed to feel cathartic—but it’s also supposed to offer you an alternative, an easier way out. In other words, escapism. But Trupa Trupa’s Headache is too small to do that. Probably for the best: the most unique albums are the small ones, the ones dealing with human emotions (like alienation, perplexity, profound sense of displacement etc) in a minimized scale so when it tells you the truth you actually believe in it and embody it. The ones aiming low sonically. Because, as I told you, then there would be nowhere you could run to. You’d have to believe in it.