Anatomy of a Song: Fear of Men’s “Descent” | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Anatomy of a Song: Fear of Men’s “Descent”

May 29, 2014 Fear of Men Bookmark and Share

A song is a chance overlapping of countless variables in an artist’s life. Anatomy of a Song is a place where those variables can be dissected and examined. In this edition, Fear of Men discuss the track “Descent” from their new album, Loom.

Jessica Weiss:

“Descent” was a song that came together pretty quickly and I wrote without much outside input, which is unusual—most of our new songs are becoming more collaborative. It’s about finding someone who is your mirror and support network but having to be able to move on now that you’re a fully independent person apart from that, while looking on the other person with no less respect or affection.
I’m a person who often feels overwhelmed and on the brink of some kind of existential precipice from overthinking everyday life, which has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. But that’s the feeling that the first line about falling into nothingness alludes to, and having someone to counter-balance that is very important. Relying on someone in this way isn’t necessarily fair on the other person though, who may be very willing to act in such a way, but their own needs become secondary, which is never good. “Underwater cries” are the voices of your better judgement that are aware things are unspecifically misbalanced, but in a way that you’re as yet unable to face.
The chorus, “What dreams may come,” a quote from Hamlet, expresses an uncertainly for the future, looking into a bleak, unknowable horizon. The second verse is again about feeling unable to cope. I’m a strong person as well as this, so it’s exploring a side of my personality rather than a full expression of my outlook.
The song is really saying thank you to a person for the shelter they were able to offer in a way that was perhaps slightly unhealthy. We were very happy together and it’s a tribute to that person and a kind of guilt for consuming their emotions.
So we move on and we strike out on our own and we try to grow and not repeat the same mistakes, though patterns are difficult to shake, and it’s not an experience you would change for the world.
Daniel Falvey:

Like with how quickly Jess wrote it, the music and production around “Descent” came very quickly to us. It was the last song to make the album, we were actually finishing off the mixing of the rest of the album and Jess called me up to play a song down the phone to me which was almost fully formed and we felt straight away that it was a song that should make the album. We had basically run out of time at that moment but we shuffled things around and booked in one more weekend at the studio to record the track in.
Even though we were under the most time pressure it was probably the most relaxed and fun two days of all the recording sessions, probably because by that point we’d learnt a lot through the trial and error of the months before, and we knew more about how to get the sort of sounds we were after.
Because the song that Jess sang down the phone to me seemed to flow so well, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t complicate that too much with the production. It is one of the heaviest songs on the record lyrically and I wanted to ensure the guitars played off that and provided a bit of light and contrast. In the section where Jess sings “What dreams may come,” we wanted to make sure that the drums weren’t too invasive and in my head I was imagining them providing a cloud for the melody to float on. That’s why it is one of the few moments on the album that Mike [Miles] plays the hi-hat rhythmically, which is something we usually like to avoid. Like I say though, I wanted to ensure we kept the flow of the initial demo and I didn’t want to fight too much against first instincts on this song. The first time Mike played that part we knew it was right, and we usually take a lot longer working on drums. This time we worked more in the snare skips in the verses and bridges, and I really like the way the drums and lead guitar interact in those parts.
The lead sound that comes up from the last “What dreams may come” section to the end chorus and sounds a bit like a synth is a mix of delayed guitar and a string quartet that we recorded and then recorded on to a four track really hot so it started to distort and warp slightly. We decided early on that for this album, synths and drum machines were banned, even if they offered a short cut to a sound we were taking a while to get. We wanted this album to sound intimate and personal and to be as human as possible, which is why mistakes and some extraneous studio sounds are left in.
As this was the first time we have had the fortune of spending a decent amount of time in a recording studio we wanted to explore the production side of things further than we’ve been able to before. We were interested in exploring the ideas of fragmentation and disintegration that Jess was writing about on this album and the distorted orchestral parts reflect that. Backing vocals on the album generally go through a similar process of tape manipulation. This is always quite a time consuming process as the only way to monitor the amount of effect is by running it through a four track then playing it back and there’s always a fine line between it being too clean and totally overloading.
It’s a song that means a lot to Jess and I think it’s an important song in the narrative of the album. I’m really pleased we managed to find the time to squeeze in a recording session and put it on the album.


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dannii minogue online shop
June 20th 2014

Great to read about story behind one of my favorite song.