Keaton Henson’s new album, released mid-October, is unlike anything he’s ever released before. Henson is well known for his soothing melodies and smooth voice, but the latter is missing in this work. Six Lethargies lacks his familiar pipes, but makes up for it with an abundance of emotional depth, much like his previous albums.
Henson suffers from severe anxiety, and his struggle with mental illness makes him unable to perform live. Six Lethargies is a project he has been working on for about three years, wanting to perform in a way that he doesn’t even have to be onstage for. Henson met with neuroscientists, music-theorists, psychologists, and other experts to find out how emotion and music connect, and how to portray and evoke emotion with this instrumental album. The piece is broken into six movements, and each is meant to display a different range of emotions through song. The movements are described as followed:
Movement 1: Initium – An Ode to something distant, growing closer
Movement 2: The Falling – An elegy to resigned anticipation of disaster
Movement 3: Trauma/ In Chaos – The Anxiety Song
Movement 4: Unease Concerto – A waltz for the shuddering after
Movement 5: On Sorrow – A hymn for depression
Movement 6: Breathing Out – A theme for hope, the breathing sea
I was extremely impressed by this work. Henson put a lot of work, time, and emotion into Six Lethargies, and it shows. Coming from a classical music background, I may be biased in my love for this orchestral work, but I think any music fan could listen to this and feel true emotion jumping from their headphones. Music is a universal language, and Henson uses it to describe the things his words couldn’t and allow an audience to experience that emotion live.
I recommend that you find an hour during your week, sit down somewhere comfortable with the lights out, close your eyes, and listen to Henson’s new masterpiece. No matter what music you enjoy, this will evoke emotion in you somehow.