We’ve all now seen examples of songs that were written and recorded long before the pandemic reared its ugly head and took our throats in its teeth, but which now seem as if they had been written yesterday. “Hypochondriac” by the British band Burden Limbs is one of those songs. Now must be a particularly miserable time to be a hypochondriac, but the music also captures the tension, the terror, and the sense of unreality that now pervades everyone’s existence, while the words convey meaning that goes beyond the afflictions of mere hypochondria.
What we’re presenting today is a disorienting and disturbing lyric video for this song, one that is well-suited to the disorienting and disturbing sensations in the music. The band’s vocalist Chad Murray explained it to us this way:
“The source material for the video was programmed by our lead instrumentalist Omar Zaghaouni using pure data and then I heavily processed it and edited it into a video and added typography and general post-production. It was intended to be an all-out assault on the eyes. I wanted to go further with it to be honest, but I was concerned that people physically wouldn’t be able to watch it all the way through unless they were really high.”
For those who have the patience, I would like to repeat here what I wrote after first encountering There Is No Escape, the debut EP of Burden Limbs which was released last September by Glasshouse Records. Armed with two bassists, two guitarists, a synths manipulator, a drummer, and a vocalist, they made “miserable bastard music” (their words).
You won’t find a listing for Burden Limbs at Metal-Archives and it differs from most of the music we cover at NCS. I was hooked into listening to the EP after coming across a lyric video for a track called “How Many Times Must I Reset“. The chilling words riveted my attention, as did the mysterious, collage-like visuals (which become strobing and frenetic by the end). And the music, coupled with those lyrics and the way Chad Murray sings them, made a harrowing impact from the first listen.
It is a dismal and disturbing song in many ways, but as it swells in volume and power, channeled through the impact of the prominent bass pulse and the wall-of-sound nature of the riffing and the searing shimmer of the synths, it becomes an adrenaline kick too. The song ebbs and flows, but climbs ever higher in its harrowing surges, reaching its zenith when Murray sends his voice soaring in agony, splintering into screams. And man, those lyrics….
As for the other three songs on the EP, including the one in today’s video, they are every bit as disturbing — and every bit as transfixing — as that one I heard first. Murray has a great voice for communicating despondency and despair, and every time he rockets his voice into the stratosphere it sends chills down the spine. The rhythmic drives in the songs are potent, and the waves of guitar and synth have a powerfully immersive (and often narcotic) effect, with through-lines of desolating melody that have a way of sticking in the head.
The emotional intensity of the music is non-stop, save perhaps for the opening to the final track (which shares the band’s name), where the sound of strings creates a sense of moody introspectiveness before the synths swell and spear the brain, long with Murray‘s angsty wails. That final song is still “miserable bastard music”, but it’s also transcendent — like a blinding sunrise of pain and regret — and spellbinding.
The song featured in the music video we’re presenting today has a near-relentless rhythmic drive that’s viscerally powerful, until near the end when the searing and hallucinatory tension in the music that surrounds that hammering physical thrust becomes a manifestation of shrieking paranoia. Murray’s voice also grows increasingly unhinged until it too shatters near the end.
As mentioned at the outset, the song’s lyrics also have an eerie relevance to what we’re all going through now, though it seems obvious that the words are metaphorical, extending beyond the clinical definition of hypochondria (they even made me think of a certain orange-faced national “leader”).
In other Burden Limbs news, Chad Murray has told us that of course all of their gigs for this spring have been cancelled, but that the band have plenty of new stuff in the pipeline and will be playing in their new line-up, which features former bassist Rory on drums and a new bassist Ed in his place, as soon as lockdown is over.
BUY THERE IS NO ESCAPE:
Good soundtrack to end of the night isolation drinking blues.