Track By Tracks: The Reticent - The Oubliette (2020)


1. His Name Is Henry:

Stage 1 introduces us to Henry, a kind and warm man who is yet unaware that he’s been left at a nursing home. He assumes it’s all a mistake but begins to worry at all the unfamiliar faces passing by. The music starts out with Henry’s hope represented by the dulcet major sonorities yet the successive meter and key changes act as an omen of the tragedy awaiting Henry in this place. Elements of swing and Latin music decorate the progressive soundscape representing Henry’s fun and hopeful mindset. 

2. The Captive: 

As the track starts, Henry hears the orderly instruct him to return to his room as marching drums cadence him to get moving now! Now convinced that he is being wrongly imprisoned and believes his wife is being kept from him, Henry begins to oscillate between anger and despair made all the worse by the fact that he still doesn’t understand what’s happening to him. Decidedly aggressive death metal spearheads the track before Henry’s anger falls into a defeated frustration represented by the pensive midsection. 

3. The Palliative Breath: 

Henry has brief moments of clarity when he realizes that “holes are deepening in his mind” and he vaguely grasps some of what’s happening to him. More calm and reflective the music echoes the patience that the doctors urge. The beautiful thoughtful acoustic opening gives way to powerful progressive rock, calm folk, and driving metal all to the conclusion that Henry’s best is long behind him. 

4. The Dream: 

Disassociating further from the world around him, Henry retreats into fantasy and dream. There he is free, there he is reunited with his beloved wife. The music comes in odd waves as it sets the scene of a blurred dream with soundscapes reminiscent of Pink Floyd or King Crimson. Ever intensifying the music builds towards a crescendo as at last Henry realizes all he sees is not real and he then falls from the clouds and is plunged into… 

5. The Nightmare: 

The disease itself becomes an infernal tormentor of Henry. Believing he is in fact in Hell, Henry hears the mocking screams of the disease telling him it will take everything from him - his mind, his hands, his legs, his eyes, his breath. The pitiless demons torturing Henry are represented by the frenzied black metal that surges the track forward. The inclusion of a full wind ensemble appears to announce the grandeur of Hell itself as the track relentlessly assaults Henry reminding him “There is no way out” as the track overwhelms the listener in the horrifyingly chaotic conclusion.

6. The Oubliette:

Starkly contrasted with the Hell in Henry’s mind, is his motionless husk of a body cemented to a hospital bed. No longer able to communicate in any way, Henry realizes he is in a prison within a prison within a prison. First, this place - the hospital. Then, his body - now unable to serve him at all. Now, his mind - where he is trapped with no memories to comfort him and no way to alleviate his confusion or his suffering. The doom metal chorus contrasts starkly with the quiet and sullen guitar that etches the thoughts of Henry as he weakly insists he is still awake within this corpse and he desperately wishes to be set free. His voice shivers and cracks as he begs silently, “please.” 

7. ________:
 
Henry hears a nurse whisper to him to “Sleep, now.” The words echo through his mind as his body begins to at long last shutdown. The wind ensemble breathes with him - in then out - before soaring as he feels the bonds of pain slipping away. The word “Sleep” seems to cascade into eternity as all grows quiet before we are snapped back to his hospital room accompanied only by the sounds of machines alerting us to Henry’s demise. The flat line runs and runs because as he forgot, so too was he forgotten. After a while, the rain pours and we hear the admonition of a doctor warning of the epidemic - Henry’s fate coming for millions. [The subtitle of the track is stylized to represent a flat line]

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