Taking cues from the corners of post-rock, slowcore, screamo and devotional music, Bristol based experimental collective BEHEADING. didn’t go the easy way, both sonic and content wise. Their debut 5-tracked covers their experiences with self-abuse, PTSD, addiction, and suicide, explored through the teachings of Eastern theology and philosophy, and today we’re pleased to give you its first official listening, along with some insights about this inspiring project.
We wrote these songs in hopes to better our physical, mental and emotional health, and to actively engage in a dialogue surrounding these subjects.
The record contains explicit references to self-harm, suicide, drug and alcohol dependency, and ptsd. for those affected by issues regarding dependency, there is a multitude of resources available to help. a little bit of hope keeps you going every day.: ukat.co.uk, impactpathways.org.uk, samaritans.org
The self-produced record slated for a release through Callous Records comes out after a couple of months of hard work, producing zines and merchandise in order to raise money for the Southmead Project, a counselling service in North Bristol which offers talking therapy to victims of child abuse. The plans to donate the majority of their Bandcamp record sales to the same cause.
“it is possible to live happily in the present moment. it is the only moment we have.” – thich nhat hanh
Credits: Written, recorded, mixed in various locations throughout 2019. mastered by Joe Caithness (previously of Plaids) in Nottingham, who’s also mastered Human Hands, Renounced, and the Bloodborne OST, among others / On this release beheading was: i. wndsr, r. jsph, k. hwks, s. bglw. Additional writing and performance on track four by s. addctt and j. shhy. Live photos by Ollie Riddoch.
The band iscontinuing to perform in support of the record, including a performance with Jordaan Mason (Oh! Map Records, Funeral Sounds) and a headline collaborative performance with Knifedoutofexistence . The band has one more show planned for the remainder of the year, which is a headline collaborative set with Knifedoutofexistence (Outsider Art, Strange Rules), which we’ve been planning since we first started as a band.
Track by track commentary:
‘Endymion’ is a song about the fallout of self-harm. It’s a reflection on the thoughts, feelings and actions that make us hurt ourselves in all kinds of ways, and the feelings of guilt and shame that come afterward when that pain starts reaching out to other people.
We went through a lot of different phases early on as a band, playing around with folk, screamo, whatever we were consuming at the time. This song was the missing link that made the band feel stylistically real. We used to write songs more traditionally, a cohesive, “A to B” story centered around a central theme. Over time, our songs became more impressionistic. A single theme explored through a collage of different images and references.
People try to make sense of our feelings through what we consume. The song is a collage of mental detritus left after someone attempts to understand their own fucked-up life through consuming everything around them. Astrology, mythology, religion, family, environment. Perspective is necessary to grow. Understanding yourself through your environment helps a lot. But you can hurt others through that. It’s all about balance.
This song is a critique of power, how it’s given and how its used. Specifically aimed at the military. I was reading a lot of literature about child soldiers when writing the first draft of the song. The military-industrial complex has a parasitic effect on people, particularly offering young people who believe they have no clear path in life (and who does when they’re young?) a huge amount of idealised power, privilege and status. But they’re just a resource, getting fucking chewed up by this hellmouth of a system and leaves them with no aftercare once they’ve accumulated a lifetime of incurable post-traumatic stress, disfigurements, and blown-off fingertips fighting for a country that doesn’t care about them. It’s some Faustian shit.
When you’re young, you need to enjoy being young. No one should be drafted into the nightmarish situation of global armed conflict when they’re that young. That’s what happens to the character portrayed in this song. They’re a kid with a gun, told to go fight. But their innocence is too caught up in the beauty of the world, seeing it through fresh, untainted eyes. They get shot and die. The end. A quarter of UK military recruits last year were minors, most of them barely 16. That’s fucked up, right? Right? Kids should be kids, not resources.
This was the first song we wrote together as a band. Like I mentioned earlier, the lyrical content of the band and “meaning” has become a lot more impressionist. But the first version of the song was written for acoustic guitar, about the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl. When I was 16, I listened to Steve Reich’s ‘Daniel Variations’ for the first time, and that kind of changed the way I look at music conceptually, structurally and politically. So this song is kind of a spiritual tribute to Reich, our teacher, and Pearl, our martyr.
Our songs tend to mutate. The song, as it exists now, is about suicide. I, personally, cannot think of a time where I did not have the overwhelming compulsion to take my own life. The ‘verse’ of the song talks about the conflicting feelings that suicidal ideation brings. “It’s more than love, it’s less than gold, it’s dull as blood.” The song’s narrator feels suicidal thoughts more intensely than even love, but knows it’s worthless, and is completely numb to feeling anything else. There’s nothing left to feel. It’s kind of a fucking downer. I want to say that this song is one of hope, but I don’t see much in it any more. We just hope that other people thinking similarly can find some strength in solidarity, knowing they’re not alone in their feelings. As contrived as that sounds. We need to look out for each other. Please.
ON THE WAVES OF LOVE
Put this together after visiting my home country and finding a lot of people I knew had lost their lives to addiction, disease and injury. Named after a lithograph by Edvard Munch. Don’t really want to talk much more about this song.