A Bouquet Of Excellence

Size doesn’t matter, nor for that matter genre. If my most listened-to musical release of 2021 which I wrote about in my last post is at 94 minutes one of the longest I’ve ever heard, my favourite of 2022 is a short 14 minutes and both of them are far apart from each other in musical style. What they do have in common is the exceptional quality of music. Shipperman is the solo project of vocalist Sunneith Revankar and I had been hanging on to the promise of his music for quite some time, as had others. I was intrigued by what this man had in store in the context of his past vocal form as one half of the brutal vocal duo of Bhayanak Maut and his latest association with Undying Inc., both pulverising metal bands. When Shipperman’s EP “Hymns For The Drunk” finally released in 2022, it came as something quite different from those, and refreshingly so. For all that, it oddly fitted in with what I had imagined it to be, in character if not necessarily in the musical presentation – sensitive, warm, moving, astoundingly beautiful!

Have I Had It With You
Or Have I Had One Too Many?

Bookending the EP are two spoken word parts that either inspire or are inspired by the moody album cover. Cigarette smoke and whisky suffuse the gnarly voice delivering a monologue that leaks despair, unresolved puzzlement and wry, shoulder-shrugging indifference in equal parts. “Killarney Deep” and the titular track are noir short (extremely) stories recited with a world-weariness that is disturbing and heartachingly touching.

I’ve Packed All The Flaws, And The Hate, And Song
You’re Going To Be Great, They’ll Hate It
Be My Exception, My Son
In A Bouquet Of Evens, Be The One

I think a characteristic of great art is how interpretive it is for the viewer/listener in being able to relate to and absorb it as something personal to each individual. On “Hymns For The Drunk”, Shipperman has sculpted with word and note deeply personal vignettes that hold a meaning for each one of us something that is perhaps well different from the writer’s own. Even the song titles are unusual in not finding a direct resonance in the songs themselves. Clearly they have a significance to the man that is hidden from the rest of us; perhaps it’s his way of holding a part of his art all to himself even while making it public. Is “Spitshine Strawberries” a cry for help, the soliloquy of a man steeped in doubt, a hedonist who has “The Love Of A Mob, But It’s Still Not Enough”? What may seem a father-to-son ode in “Football Season Is Over” might also have you thinking of a broader creation angle to it of a far from perfect god whispering wry encouragement to his even more flawed child. Then there are lines such as this – “Your Bottom Line, Carved Deep In Your Wrist / Left A Pool On My Floor, In My Eyes It Will Persist” – from “Roju” that despite my not having personally dealt with such tragedy fill me with the crushing weight of sorrow feeling vicariously for all those who have. Isn’t that what great art is, making you feel with every atom that makes your existence?

The words are carried by very well-composed music, subtle without being sparse, that highlights the pathos and the vulnerability in the lyrics. Nuanced and beautifully balanced, the combination touches many chords of despair and wistfulness and love. Listening to it I have felt loss and I have felt life of my half a century of years. To call this EP “lovely” would be to merely mouth a platitude. It is not “lovely”. It is indescribably beautiful in the perverse way that deep melancholy can be.

You can stream/buy (I hope the latter) “Hymns For The Drunk” on Bandcamp.

You can stream it on:

Tidal: https://tidal.com/browse/album/220233761

Apple Music: https://music.apple.com/in/album/hymns-for-the-drunk-ep/1613728805

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/791OZE6bQwMGldpfqseCTY?si=UBmO-EyGRXGiQcr96q80Ag

You can watch and listen to the lyric video of “Roju” here:

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