Keaton Henson gained notable attention for his debut album Dear (2012), where singles such as ‘You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are’ featured on many Spotify indie playlists, however his most recent release Six Lethargies (2019) certainly hasn’t gained the attention and love that it deserves.
Being labelled as ‘Classical Crossover’ on Apple Music genres, perhaps this may put listeners off who are not familiar with or who do not appreciate classical music they have heard previously, as many listeners may brush it off as dull. However, Henson’s album is far from uninteresting, and includes some of the most gorgeous melodies and harmonies.
Consisting of just 7 pieces, each piece is rather lengthy compared to his previous material, with some songs reaching around 10 minutes each. This length truly makes for a memorable experience for listeners, and I would suggest this album is best heard outside, in the open air, to fully appreciate the hauntingly beautiful timbres created.
‘Initium’, the album’s first track, is a gorgeous 9-minute song developed from strings, whose repetitive melodies build up to create a beautifully dramatic ‘bridge’ section, which I imagine would play the perfect role in the background of an emotional scene of a film. The strings build up from quiet and soothing to, near the end, becoming an amalgamation of different layers and the volume notably rises, and then drops. This first track gives the perfect impression of what to expect from the rest of the album.
‘Trauma / In Chao’ develops themes heard in ‘Initium’, and its melodies become rather haunting. The strings generate harsher sounds, and this is arguably more experimental than the first track. Played arco almost entirely throughout, the strings are enabled to produce haunting melodies and timbres which would likely be heard behind a horror film (one that comes to mind particularly for me is Jordan Peele’s Us). The music heard in this song truly lives up to its title, where a chaotic and clashing bout of strings is heard at about 6 minutes in, as the melodies eratically rise and fall underneath violent timbres. It ends suddenly and dramatically, and leaves listeners questioning what they just heard. This, I feel, is extremely important for this album – listeners require time to reflect on what they have heard to truly appreciate it.
Perhaps the most beautiful track of all is the final one on the album, ‘Breathing Out’. Reminiscent of Clara Schumann’s pieces that are heard in The Duchess soundtrack, this piece is less haunting than others, but equally as memorable. There are gorgeous cadences heard throughout, and it’s as if the tension built up in the other songs from the album are finally released here, living up to its title. ‘Breathing Out’ is 12 minutes of loveliness, and makes the perfect track to fall asleep or relax to. In the panic of the news and world occurrences right now, ‘Breathing Out’ can be a single to help soothe listeners who are feeling anxious or struggling to relax or sleep.
Six Lethargies is available to listen to now via Mercury KX.