Every year or two, I am overcome with an urge to get organised. It’s not an obsessive thing, by any means, and it doesn’t extend to every facet of my life. Tax documents, pay stubs and things of that ilk remain right where I left them—under the dresser, under the bed, on the bed—until I need them. But my books and CDs—the important things—are cleared from their shelves (and from under the bed and from grocery bags) and stacked in neat piles to be rearranged according to a system that only the great bibliophiles could claim to comprehend.
The process smacks of pragmatism, but it is an exercise in futility, really. Within weeks, they will migrate by the dozen, to resume their rightful place in the world: the passenger seat of my car (should the need arise to reference Jung’s Synchronicity whilst stuck in rush hour traffic, you know how it is…). The only thing of any practical use to come out of the experience is the opportunity reevaluate my collection—to note the gaps and count just how many more copies of The Waste Land I have accumulated (14). But what struck this last time round was an unsettling number of volumes dedicated to psychological disorders, suicide, depression—and self-mutilation.
And now, with Someone Will Take Care of Me (New Amsterdam), Corey Dargel has added his musical contribution to my library. The two disc collection features two of Corey’s music-theater, pseudo-song cycles, Thirteen Near-Death Experiences, and Removable Parts, exploring some of the darker recesses of the human experience. In what plays out like a Freudian hybrid of Pierrot Lunaire and the Postal Service, Thirteen Near-Death Experiences (brilliantly executed by Corey, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and David T. Little) takes an unflinching look at the illnesses, both physical and a psychological, that plague the less fortunate among us.
Perhaps more difficult to come to terms with, however, is Removable Parts, ten songs about voluntary amputation. Thankfully, it is state of mind entirely foreign to the vast majority of us. But like me with library of self-mutilation, Corey throws himself into his research until he can, in some way, relate to the subject at hand. The subject matter paired with stripped down instrumentation (relative to Thirteen Near-Death Experiences), first-person lyrics delivered in a straight-forward, unadorned manner, make for a pleasantly unsettling listening experience.
In a sense, listening to Someone Will Take Care of Me, has been somewhat akin to the experience of reading The Bell Jar for the first time. It highlights the delicate balance between health and illness and how close we are at any given moment to stumbling (or leaping) across the fine line separates the mundane from my “psych shelf”. And this album, like all things of true beauty, teeters on the brink of madness.
Download “Fingers” from Someone Will Take Care of Me, part of Removable Parts.