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Atlum Schema – The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Atlum Schema is still one of my favourite artists. His live performances are always captivating, his songwriting unlike many others and his strive to promote himself and other musicians in unconventional ways such as a new musical night or his podcast is inspiring. The perfect three anecdotes for a successful musician and a satisfied fan.

‘The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less’ starts with an instant wall of sound. The piano line is haunting and ambiguous, aided by the cello responses in the background. A great start in which you know you’re going to be in for something special. This brilliant introduction is then followed by some amazing chord changes such as at at 39 secs before singing “but only if you want” and at 56 secs before singing “diamond eyes“. But at 1:23 after hearing his voice sounding like he is whispering to the listener, trying to wake us up, his voice gradually builds with more anger, more surety and declaration…emphasised with subtle, yet striking harmonies at 1:35.

After these vocals have been sung, begins another ambiguous section which feels like it has been put there to give us time to ponder over the first (2:13). The phrase is repeated four times and each time ends on the most poignant harmony with the cello sustaining over the top (first heard at 2:19). It’s agitatingly lush.

But 2:57 begins the final and also my favourite part of the song. It suddenly goes into a major key and really feels as though we have been saved from that first, dark half of the piece where we were made to feel imbalanced and insecure. At 3:40 begins a series of harmonies. But then at 4:29 enters just what we thought we escaped from! The beginning of the piece returns and ends the track. Is it to reflect our depressed lives? Or is it to warn us that we’re being tempted into the wrong decision? It is either a brilliantly optimistic or brilliantly harsh, mirthless ending.

This track alongside the rest of the album can be downloaded for any price you choose, including nothing from here.  

Atlum Schema – The Ballad of the Self-Blessed, Self-Less by masstsnk

  1. Rml
    January 27, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    You know, I've always liked your writing in itself – but now that I'm finally able to listen to the songs again, I can appreciate it infinitely more. I gotta give you kudos for the way you guide the readers/listeners through your favorite bits (well, yeah, I guess that's the whole point!), showing us exactly what attracts you there and why; and more than showing us, convincing us how great those are!Now: this is grand song! In a real haunting manner, but still grand! "Agitatingly lush", I believe you said – it totally sums it up. Really impressive piece, I'll be listening to it nonstop for a while…

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