Be Softly is a “creative collective and record label” from Bristol who produce collaborative, interdisciplinary work. A collaboration with the American poet Sam Pink, their latest release Your Glass Head Against the Brick Parade of Now Whats is an EP which transplants the Pink’s poetry from the page onto huge, post-rock soundscapes.
Following Sam Pink’s lead, the record is brutal and dark, the instrumentation allowing the violent alienation and dissatisfaction of his words to soar. ‘False-Bottomed Coffins’ opens with an introduction to the album’s themes, with self-consciousness disguised as misanthropy, caring too deeply masked as blank indifference, and the constant pressure of these repressed emotions pressing on the crown of the skull, like a volcano about to blow. ‘I Own You and You Own Me’ continues this, opening with a pretty clear sentiment—”Two types of eye contact: none and fuck you”—navigating a depressive state that feels like “all there is inside your skull is melted plastic.” Again, the narrator is tangled within their own thoughts, their attempts at freeing themselves only furthering the bind, a predicament communicated with a Wallacean, inside-my-head tone.
“Living as three people: one inside your head saying hateful/depressed/hopeless shit, another as the one inside your head trying to deal with the first one, and the third one as visible to the outside world, trying to keep people from noticing any trace of the first two.
That moment when you start to have a little feeling/emotion and you look back on having just acted out of not having any feelings/emotions.”
‘Bonus Magnets for my Brain’ meanders in a way that could be relaxed or ominous or both, the instrumentation threatening to bubble over but never quite managing the energy required. Hyper-self-consciousness, banal everyday observations and macabre imagery coalesce into something at once relatable and unhinged, where lines like “The feeling that everything is obvious in a way that’s embarrassing” are followed by “Making friends with the firing squad.” ‘One Night, Your Pillow Will Swallow Your Head’ and ‘Making Friends With the Firing Squad’ furthers this feeling, growing increasingly morbid and strange as horror, paranoia and deep-seated anger make violent ends inevitable—either the narrator will be destroyed or else the entire world around them. All the while, a slow creeping dread advances, looming.
“Talking to the lone lobster left in the tank at the supermarket to calm down and feel connected.
Talking shit to the firing squad.
Smiling wide as you allow your latest ghost to slowly come out of you in front of others, unseen.
Smiling wide as you allow someone else’s latest ghost to go into you as if you earned it.
And you have.
You have you have you have!”
Both this nameless dread and the hope of escaping it fuel the entire collection, and these forces manifest themselves as monsters on ‘No Way to Defeat It but Jump In / No Way to Help It but Let It Die.’ The dread is “A monster with a head made of a hundred toothless mouths (No way to defeat it but jump in),” and the hope “A monster with a head full of knives that never dies, just stumbles around shrieking (And no way to help it but let it die).” Within this tale of suffering, a relationship is painted, though one so fiercely held that it becomes its own form of torment, the narrator’s performing a verbal self-flagellation as penance for their perceived inadequacy, lashing themselves into nothingness in lieu of any better ideas. After all there’s no way to help it but let it die.
Check out the striking video from Wild Child Studios below:
Your Glass Head Against the Brick Parade of Now Whats plays like the fever dream manifesto of the archetypal Disillusioned Kid, someone who, instead of shooting up his school or oxycontin, decided to let the tirade out as language. Stinging and self-loathing and strange, the narrator is sick and tired of a phony world and phony people yet dying of cold within this self-imposed exile. The record then, feels like one final, fatal gesture—self-immolation just to feel that half-second of warmth before the pain sets in, just to see your own blazing reflection in eyes of the faces around you.