As this cough will choke me, I implore you to have my body opened, so that I may not be buried alive.
These are said to be among composer Frédéric Chopin’s final written words in the fall of 1849 as he lay dying of tuberculosis. His 39 years were spent fighting serious physical ailments and the torment of visual hallucinations most likely caused by temporal lobe epilepsy. Being buried alive was a serious fear as death drew near.
At his funeral he was buried to his own most famous composition: Piano Sonata No. 2, known widely as The Funeral March. This sonata comprises four movements: Grave—Doppio movimento, Scherzo, Marche funèbre: Lento, and Finale: Presto. What most of us think of when we hear “Chopin’s Funeral March”—ominous and doomy piano chords played in B-Flat minor—is simply the third movement.
Colorado Springs musician Brian Elyo (aka mobdividual) just released an EP inspired by Piano Sonata No. 2—along with Chopin’s final writings—entitled Embrace Your Babes, And Write Me a Line. Like the sonata, the EP consists of four parts, the titles of which are culled from Chopin’s final written words referenced above.
The four songs flow seamlessly. As This Cough Will Choke Me is the first—an ambient industrial slow burn with hints of feedback echoing throughout that bleeds into I Implore You To Have My Body Opened, a spacy track with a fragile instrumental melody. The third, So That I May Not Be Buried Alive, is the destination just like in the sonata, and where the Chopin influence becomes most apparent. A big muff encases those darkly familiar Funeral March chords, surrounded by gravelly static. The notes are drawn out, and each eventually buries the last as Elyo uses reverb, echo, and distortion the way a pianist would use the sustain pedal to emphasize the dread of the movement. The familiar sound is echoed throughout the last track.
Mobdividual has built a name for himself over the years with a sound built on densely layered and heavily mangled guitar noise. His aesthetic is distinctly left-of-center and abstract, residing within a wall-of-sound shoegaze universe that isn’t easily categorized or penetrated by the mainstream listener. As with many acts that create these immense soundscapes, the live performance often “feels” a little different as it’s difficult to recreate stratums of raw sound in a concert setting, especially as a one man band. His shows are often more organically atmospheric as the wall of sound gives way to sustained notes and reverberated feedback loops that feed into one distorted aural assault after another.
It works either way.
In Embrace Your Babes, Elyo set out to reverse engineer his usual studio sound and create a live experience in a controlled environment. “It is very much a recorded version of the live mobdividual experience overall; I wanted to bring you down into the basement with me.” There are no overdubbed guitar layers, no deeply augmented sounds that distract from the overarching melodies. What you see is what you get. That’s not to say it’s a simple listen. At once ambient and doomy, brutal and sensitive, the textures are there. You just don’t have to dig to find them.
Embrace Your Babes, And Write Me A Line was released by Anonymous Collective and can be purchased at their page.
Stream it here: