August 13, 2022

Damián Antón Ojeda – “Sadn stuff (winter?? 2015)”


Location: Mexico Metropolis, Mexico

Subgenre: Damiancore

“Damián’s been holding out on us.” This can be a sentence that has by no means as soon as been mentioned of Damián Antón Ojeda, the absurdly, obscenely, insanely prolific younger genius behind Unhappiness, amongst various different issues.

Within the November 2021 installment of this column, I tried for instance the magnitude of Ojeda’s output by noting that Unhappiness had produced “a catalog that, as I write these phrases, contains 32 releases, the primary of which dates again to 2014, when Ojeda was a highschool junior. It’s all rather a lot, and that’s not even near all of it.”

Since then, he’s added one other 9 releases to that catalog, though that solely accounts for the Unhappiness discography. I do know he additionally put out a pair of Life information, and one from Liminal Dream, and one from Comforting, and I’m actually not gonna attempt to provide you with an entire listing right here. There’s extra; that’s all I can say with any confidence.

On the conclusion of that final surge, which brings us to April 2 of this yr, Ojeda fell off the grid for a month. Then one other month. Then? An replace. Underneath the heading “unused music + miscellaneous recordings,” adopted by a hyperlink to a brand-new Bandcamp web page, Ojeda returned with this message:

you may have completely no thought how lengthy it took to get all of this collectively. I began compiling this in march and am solely simply now ending. that is (virtually) the whole lot I’ve ever recorded that wasn’t launched as one thing else. some issues are gone, some issues I didn’t embody as a result of I didn’t need to, and I in all probability missed some issues. these are principally logic and garageband periods though there are some laptop computer and cellphone recordings. I’ve been so burdened engaged on this since I principally needed to begin over once I realized that bandcamp couldn’t assist a lot audio, so I needed to reupload the whole lot in two separate albums.

Simply re-read that final bit, beginning on the phrase “Bandcamp.” Actually take that in. Actually take into consideration what which may really imply. I imply…whew! Anywho, the upshot and finish result’s, certainly, two separate albums: Unused Music (2008-2014) and Unused Music (2015-2019), all launched below the title Damián Antón Ojeda.

The primary of these collections contains 320 tracks. The second, 445. That offers us a complete 765 tracks. That’s 765 items of unused music from a man who has already launched no fewer than 13 information since November. (Proper now, if Ojeda had been to write down a personalised music for each single Unhappiness fan in North America, it could in all probability solely account for like 35% of his updated-total recorded output.)

Earlier than we go any additional, let me simply make this clear: I’m an ecstatic and unabashed Unhappiness superfan – and moreover, I truthfully consider that Ojeda is a traditionally nice artist – however even I feel this one takes it just a few steps past the pale. It’s a bit a lot, OK? Actually, it’s. It’s a bit a lot, Damián! It’s only a bit a lot.

How a lot, you ask, is a bit a lot? First off, have a look at the photograph on the quilt of the primary assortment. The teeny-tiny early-adolescent skate-rat ACTUAL CHILD that you simply see there’s Damián in 2011. That’s him in 2011! Bear in mind, please, that the title of this file is Unused Music (2008-2014). This music goes again to 2008! Now, by my approximation, Ojeda was about 10 or so years previous in 2008. (The primary of his 2009 recordings included right here is “Previous McDonald Had A Farm,” however make it loss of life steel, and, um…yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna say about 11 years previous.) Second, there is probably not an individual on this planet – apart from Ojeda himself – who has really listened to all the person’s correct recordings. Third, these aren’t correct recordings. They’re simply…recordings. They’re in all places. Some sound like early drafts of deserted songs. Others sound like Ojeda simply sat down and hit file whereas he aimlessly fucked round on a random riff or lick. There are some grandly highly effective and extremely achieved classical solo piano performances (no joke), and a few pretty, lonely items performed on acoustic guitar. A bunch of it sounds just like the ambient stuff he’d sometimes layer beneath or in-between among the louder stuff on a Unhappiness music. Do all of them sound like a kind of issues? Hell if I do know. I perhaps listened to 40 of these 765 songs. (One in all them, titled “Jam On Billy Jean,” is him jamming on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”) For those who take heed to the entire thing and unearth any towering classics, I might very a lot recognize you letting me know.

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Till you’ve gotten round to that, although, I’ll let you know concerning the closest factor to “towering traditional” that I got here throughout whereas wandering these hinterlands: “Sadn stuff (winter?? 2015),” which is, like, not that removed from being an actual Unhappiness music. I imply, it’s nonetheless fairly far; it’s perhaps 40% there, or perhaps, I dunno, 25%, with placeholder programmed drums and no vocals in any respect – Ojeda typically spends years making an attempt to nail down a specific music’s vocals, and I’m fairly certain he doesn’t begin recording them until he’s sufficiently stoked on the remainder of the music – however you’ll be able to clearly hear a great Unhappiness music in there, if an unfinished one. And what? For all I do know, he very nicely might have really completed this music and already launched that completed model on a Unhappiness file! Possibly it’s on one of many eight information he put out in 2016! I do not know! I can’t place it, and now I’ve listened to it too many occasions to listen to it as something aside from an actual Unhappiness music, and I’m overwhelmed on the considered making an attempt to determine it out.

I really like that about Ojeda, that feeling of being overwhelmed, of being misplaced. That’s on no account what makes his music nice, although, and this explicit piece of music is on no account his nice music, so in the event you’re not acquainted, I strongly counsel beginning anyplace however right here. For those who do begin right here, don’t cease right here. The disparity between “Sadn stuff” and precise Unhappiness stuff is just like the disparity between “Jam On Billy Jean” and the precise “Billie Jean.” Solely extra huge. Superior songwriting.

Which brings me to…um, what? As I sit right here now, studying the whole lot I’ve written above, I’m really questioning why I’ve chosen to write down about this one in any respect. I’m not doubting the selection itself, I simply can’t put my finger on why I’ve made this selection. Clearly it’s largely as a result of I deeply love Ojeda’s music, and in lesser half as a result of I discover it numerous enjoyable to assume and write about him. Additionally, I suppose, Unused Music may be the weirdest train of Herculean inventive ambition I’ve ever seen. Who’s this entire factor for? It might be confounding to even probably the most ardent obsessive. It might frankly be confounding to future historians or biographers. And it’s not a prank or a stunt – Ojeda is an intensely earnest and severe individual, and he’s intensely earnest and severe about his work. (The “hilarious” child who made “Previous McDonald” is a misplaced ghost lengthy forgotten by the “artist-as-a-young-man” child who made Shut 5 years later.)

The one conclusion that I can attain is that it’s for him – to not please his ego, however simply to have all these things off his laborious drive, and to have it on the earth, so he can’t be tempted to return and work on it, work it into one thing new. That’s sometimes how he operates, or that’s how I observe it, anyway: A Unhappiness music launched in 2020, hypothetically, may be composed of a half-dozen items written and/or recorded at quite a few totally different factors and locations over the half-decade previous to the music’s launch. He likes to recycle stuff, repurpose stuff. He actually refuses to waste something. (In addition to your time! Haha. Kidding! Properly … OK, typically, perhaps.) And that’s what he’s doing right here: not losing something. He’s not a lot opening the vault because the storage door, and saying, “Take a look round – in the event you see something you want, take it. Pay me no matter. I simply gotta eliminate all these things earlier than I transfer out of this place.”

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Ojeda really did simply transfer, by the way. Within the literal sense. In April. To Mexico Metropolis, I consider. It looks as if a reasonably vital shift, primarily based on what he needed to say about it:

“I now stay in the identical metropolis as a few of my relations who’re musicians so we’re engaged on getting a stay set for Unhappiness.”

For those who’re already a Unhappiness fan, you ought to be completely shedding your shit upon studying that. However…no. Cease. Don’t. That’s not what you need. That’s not what Unhappiness is. And anyway, I wouldn’t rely on a Unhappiness stay present ever occurring, as a result of I’m fairly sure it’s fully unequivocally not possible, and I do know for a indisputable fact that Ojeda is actually bodily incapable of reproducing these vocals in any respect, interval, ever, however…perhaps? I actually wouldn’t wager on it, however I can also’t wager in opposition to it. Possibly it is attainable? Possibly that’s what Unhappiness might develop into?

That’s what I used to be getting at earlier than with that “transferring” metaphor, clearly. The chance. The changing into. The moving-to and the moving-away. Ojeda really goes someplace new, artistically or spiritually or no matter you wanna name it. He’s been closing out numerous previous accounts these days. On the finish of March, he put out two collections of newly-wrapped long-abandoned Unhappiness songs from 2014-2015 that had been beforehand “both unfinished or unreleased.” These units comprised 25 full songs not included among the many 765 spare elements on the Unused Music information. To present you an thought what’s on there, right here’s what Ojeda needed to say about a kind of 2015 songs, “Heartthrobbing“:

I began having the concept for a brand new music challenge which was principally going to be… “atmospheric nu steel?” I had 2 songs deliberate and clearly by no means did something with them, and that is considered one of them. I don’t know in the event you might actually name this “atmospheric nu steel” however I additionally don’t actually care about what style something I do is. this works nicely being disappointment I suppose.

Now, that exact music wouldn’t be “atmospheric nu steel” even when such a factor existed, however that’s irrelevant. The purpose is, that wasn’t ever even alleged to be a Unhappiness music! Ojeda simply made up a style, wrote a pair songs for it, misplaced curiosity, after which dropped it! And now these bizarrely conceived deserted songs written by a youngster are right here on the earth on a Unhappiness file launched in 2022! It’s simply…he’s simply purging completely the whole lot and it’s simply a lot music. Even for Damián Ojeda. It appears like he’s not simply liquidating, however shedding a pores and skin, leaving all of it behind.

It sounds like that, too. If the precise chronology of the music – and I truthfully don’t blame you in the event you don’t, as a result of it’s hilariously complicated – you’ll be able to hear it proper there. You’ll be able to’t not hear it. If, however, you have no idea the precise chronology of the music, right here’s what I imply: The closest factor to 100% legitimately new new Unhappiness stuff, by way of when it was written and recorded, is the two-song EP Our Time Is Right here, which got here out in April. And the newer of these two songs – the music that greatest represents the state of Unhappiness circa now (or circa April 2022, anyway) – is “Late Spring True Love.” Right here’s slightly little bit of what Ojeda needed to say about it:

that is my favourite music I’ve ever made. it touches one thing deep in my coronary heart that has all the time been so vital to me. music with this actual type of excessive power and shade is my favourite. I’m a really nostalgic individual and this music seems like so many moments of my deep previous crying and singing in probably the most magical and purest method. I all the time lengthy to seize the magic I really feel within the music I make and this music makes me really feel like I’m 9 years previous once more. i really cried whereas listening to this immediately (in one of the simplest ways attainable). very core musical and shade recollections are explored within the tonality and recollections, and this music isn’t simply purely nostalgic, it’s many moments of my life, and even proper now. that is the timelessness of my purest being.

That’s some intensely earnest and severe shit even by Ojeda’s requirements, however lemme let you know one thing: I completely fucking get it. I hear all of that within the music. I imply, not the colour stuff – I’m sure he experiences synesthesia – however all the remainder of it. I’ll let you know one thing else: It’s my favourite Unhappiness music, too. I’ve numerous favourite Unhappiness songs, however “Late Spring True Love” is one of the best one. And it’s additionally my favourite. And I’d very very similar to to speak to you about this for the subsequent six hours, simply whereas I’ve obtained ya, besides…nicely, look:

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This can be a steel column. That’s what we cowl on this place. Wyatt first wrote about Unhappiness right here in 2015 or ’16, I feel, and we’ve been masking Ojeda since then. And he’s solely gotten higher since then. However he’s additionally, since then, exponentially broadened and expanded the chances of Unhappiness’ sound, taking it far past the challenge’s nascent id as a quite-good standard-issue one-man bedroom-DSBM outfit. I’m unsure when precisely Unhappiness merely ceased to be a metal-metal automobile – who is aware of? Possibly it was again in December 2015, on the very second when Ojeda shelved “Sadn stuff” and moved on to one thing totally different. I am certain, nevertheless, that it doesn’t matter what you would possibly personally contemplate to be steel, “Late Spring True Love” isn’t. Couldn’t be. It’s a billion-percent Unhappiness, completely, each second of it. I can consider at the very least a dozen different Unhappiness songs which might be clearly and carefully associated to this one; that is only a single, easy evolutionary step ahead. Not one factor concerning the music might presumably be mistaken for something aside from Unhappiness. Nor might or not it’s mistaken for steel. And I suppose it makes me kinda unhappy ‘n’ stuff, to assume that we, on this steel column, actually couldn’t ever responsibly justify masking such a music – Ojeda’s greatest but; my #1 favourite of all my #1 favourite Unhappiness songs – and perhaps … I don’t even wanna say it out loud, however perhaps we received’t get to cowl Unhappiness once more after this?

Don’t get me improper: I absolutely count on Unhappiness to launch loads of unimaginable music that features loads of steel components. I simply do not know the place Ojeda is taking this factor, and even because it stands proper now, in truth, I’m unsure there’s any solution to truthfully speak about his artwork in a steel context anymore. After all, I can’t consider some other acceptable context both. Except “Damián Ojeda” is the context. As a result of that’s the one factor which may really match. And what? Possibly it does match. At this level, fairly frankly, his physique of labor contains a pattern dimension giant sufficient to represent a style unto itself.

I suppose, in the end, that’s the rationale I made a decision to do “Sadn stuff” right here. To verify I didn’t miss what may be my final actual alternative to write down on this area about my favourite artist on the earth immediately, the likes of whom I’ve by no means seen earlier than and will by no means see once more. And to discover a solution to write about “Late Spring True Love,” although it’s early summer season, and although we’re alleged to be speaking about steel proper now. And to say, not goodbye, however: holy shit. Are you severe, Damián? How the hell might you presumably count on us to ever really take heed to all this music? Give me extra.[From Unused Music (2015-2019), out now via the artist.]Michael Nelson