Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't Believe the Hyperreal

Don't Believe the Hyperreal by Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom was one of my favourite albums of 2015, but oddly enough I never really wrote anything about it here on the blog. One year on from its release, I'd like very much to rectify that state of affairs.

Airel Sharratt and Mathias Kom are both members of The Burning Hell, but sometime towards the end of 2015, they took a break from their day job and recorded a collection of duets called Don't Believe the Hyperreal. The album's artwork is a collage of famous couples such as Princess Leia/Han Solo, John Lennon/Yoko Ono, and Rachel Green/Ross Geller, and most of the songs here are pretty lovey-dovey in theme (Sharratt and Kom are themselves an item), but as love songs go, these ones do a really good job of being sweet without ever being sickly. Fuck the Government, I Love You chronicles Mathias and Ariel's first meeting with arch humour instead of gooey 'love at first sight' hyperbole, while the likes of Your Military and What You Want show how perfectly these two complete each other but do so in an off-kilter sort of way that tugs at the heartstrings but never makes you want to roll your eyes.

No roses or chocolates here - just lines about druids and broken stereo speakers. There is a Princess Bride reference, but they don't even compare themselves to Buttercup and Westley; instead, Sharratt likens herself to Inigo Montoya, and her lover to the six-fingered man who slew Inigo's father. I Got You Babe it ain't.

The last two song on Hyperreal depart slightly from the general theme, albeit in two different ways. Penultimate track In the Future isn't a love song, but rather Mathias Kom's response to receiving a Christmas card from an old friend. He starts with a simple 'thank you' before moving on to a wide-ranging rumination that covers nostalgia, the passage of time, the infinite potential of the future, and the meaning of life itself.

"What's the point in birds? Somewhere, there's a pelican wondering what's the point in us - and that's a relevant point the pelican brings up. Maybe it's one we should discuss."

It's a great song that perfectly captures the 'who knows where we'll be this time next year' feeling that many of us experience during the Christmas/New Year period - even if it does end with Mathias deleting his draft and typing a simple "Season's greetings and happy new year, thanks for the Christmas card, it's cute the way the chihuahua is dressed like a reindeer" instead.

The album's final song is a love song, sort of, but it isn't a duet. Sung by Ariel Sharratt and Ariel Sharratt alone, Eugene & Maurice is Hyperreal's only solo, giving the track a desperately lonely feeling that mercilessly enhances the tearjerking story Sharratt is telling: the story of Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak and his partner Eugene Glynn, who predeceased Sendak by roughly five years.

Eugene & Maurice is a devastating closer, and its impact is not softened by Kom's sudden absence from the mix. However, even though it isn't a duet, its description of the relationship between Glynn and Sendak still neatly fits the album's overall theme, which can basically be summed up thus: aw, look - they really love each other!

You can buy Don't Believe the Hyperreal from The Burning Hell's Bandcamp page.

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