I’ve been trying to write something about this album for nigh on a week now (and by the time I actually get round to posting this, it’ll have been two months). There’s so much I want to say about it. But I don’t feel like there’s anything I could possibly do to make you understand exactly how this record will affect you. At the core, this is an album that deals with a deep depression and the subsequent thoughts and need to take that depression to an extreme.
Dan Barrett (Have A Nice Life) is the man behind this project.
Dan Barrett wanted to kill himself.
This is the examination of that period of his life. And ultimately whether it was and is, worth carrying on.
2. Blackest Bile
3. Grave Filled With Books
4. Empty Churches
5. I’m Going To Do It
6. Spectral Bride
7. No One Is Ever Going To Want Me
8. A Sleeping Heart
9. Buried Above Ground
Musically, Giles Corey encompasses numerous genres. Post rock, a little bit of folk, tinges of country, Barrett wanting to fully explore different realms of the musical spectrum. Initially this project was borne out of a desire to see if he could make a country/folk-like record. And then certain things happened. I’m not going to dwell on the ins and outs of that situation, it’s been much documented since the record was released and I’d hate to say something or assume something that wasn’t true. It just isn’t my place to talk about such a personal experience.
The record, and project, is named for a Giles Corey, a seventeenth century farmer who was tried in the Salem Witch Trials and was quite literally pressed to death. A terrifying thought, I’m sure you’d agree.
The record begins with The Haunting Presence; a beautifully understated introduction of piano and bare vocals. A gorgeous underlying electronic noise sweeps in, building this moment and truly becoming haunting. The drum beat absolutely pounds, heavy and bass-filled, complimenting a now whispered, spoken word line. Until the symphonic nature of the track takes over and a completely despair laden sung (yet somehow kind of screamed) vocal rings out. You can hear the pain in Barrett’s voice, in the bashing of the keys (not unlike the start of The Caterpillar by The Cure), in the numerous directions this one song is going in.
Giles Corey demo recordings had been kicking about on the internet for quite some time before this album got an official release on Barrett’s own label Enemies List Home Recordings. As mentioned before, the project was at first a sort of side project but it eventually took on a different aspect to what was originally intended, the songs becoming an outlet for the experiences and tribulations Daniel Barrett was encountering during a dark period in his life. The songs still hold true to the wanting to make a country or folk album, but this is the most personal collection of music I’ve heard this year that isn’t 40 Watt Sun’s The Inside Room.
On I’m Going To Do It, a simple acoustic guitar line underpins the electronic element of the track. The vocal leading the melody and being the focal point of the song. Take the opportunity to hear this via headphones, there’s samples in here that you wouldn’t hear else, adding to the melancholy atmosphere. Grandiose string sounds cut through the wall of sound created, building up until a huge crash of a cymbal. The closing minutes of the song are ghostly in nature, stuttering feedback, low whispers and breaths. As if stood on the precipice of a mighty decision. You feel that yes, he is going to do it.
Spectral Bride is seven minute despondency filled journey, taking in a country and western vibe, with a little bit of the blues thrown in for good measure. When the line “I hope I survive this fucking week” is offered, damn, you feel the power behind those words. The drum sound is full, hammering into your chest with precision.
Giles Corey speaks to you on a great many levels. If you’ve ever had personal experience of depression or suicide then this will seem like the most intimate recording you’ve ever lent your ears to. It’s not often an album comes along that somehow urges you to really take a look at yourself. I promised myself I wouldn’t go into masses of detail regarding why this album came to affect me quite the way that it did. For one, this is not about me, but sometimes a piece of music can make you honestly reflect on life and it’s intricacies. Suffice to say, I’ve dealt with suicide. Both attempts and successes. I’ve dealt with depression, around me and (as much as I hate to admit) probably within me.
No One Is Ever Going To Want Me is a personal favourite of mine. Simple in sound, electronic elements bringing out the disparate feeling inherent in this album. The vocal is occasionally hidden behind the music, although the sadness echoes throughout. None more so than around six and a half minutes when the pace has picked up a tad, a sudden loudness bursts through and it’s one of those perfect moments in a song. The closing refrains of “I wanna feel like I feel, when I’m asleep” are like a knife to the heart.
Giles Corey ends on Buried Above Ground, an elegant almost entirely instrumental track. Acoustic guitar and symphonic strings make up the spine of the song with lightly hit keys to round out the sound. An absolutely breathtaking trumpet shatters the gloom and we end as we began:
There’s a devil on my back,
There’s a devil on my legs,
There’s a devil on my chest,
There’s a devil on my neck.
No One Is Ever Going To Want Me.