[sic] Magazine

Sweeney – Stay For The Sorrow

Sweeney – Stay For The Sorrow

IDM fans and regulars here probably know electronic artist Jason Sweeney better as Panoptique Electrical. However Sweeney has recorded under his own name before. Latest album Stay For The Sorrow comprises ten short pieces, running in at a total of 38 minutes and it takes in all manner of downtempo IDM styles. I’m impressed, not only with the variety on display here but also the quality. Sweeney shows he is master of all trades and Jack of none on his new release. There are ambient pieces, fragile piano compositions, glitch and drone. At times Sweeneys work here borders upon dubstep and hauntology. (Witness, ‘You Will Move On’) Yet everything centers upon Jasons mournful vocal.

Stay For The Sorrow is clearly a bittersweet and deeply personal affair for Jason, marking a period of relationship trauma for the composer. It’s a shame that great art often has to arise from a place of suffering but perhaps that’s all part of the catharsis, the Ying and Yang of the human condition. I will confess that when I sat to review this, I hit play and I thought ‘Oh, I’ve heard this before.’ On reflection I’m not even sure that I had. The album just feels familiar. That ‘instant classic’ feeling maybe? Now by ‘classic’ I don’t mean to imply grandiose movements and crescendos. Stay For The Sorrow is a far more intimate collection of low-key laments exploring the stages of grief following (during?) a breakup – the shock, the denial, the inability to process…. and the struggle to imagine a different future.

In the accompanying blurb Jason wrote the following:

A heart broke open.
A queer melodrama.
An album was written.
A house was not a home.
But then a landscape appeared.
And in the midst of melancholy there was another love.
He might be replaced with another him but the heart remains true

I think we can all relate to these experiences in some way. Yet what Sweeney has captured and distilled here is nothing short of compelling. I know of very few records comparable. At times I’m put in mind of the verdant imagination of Tobias Lilja, at others the obvious mastery of Burial. But this….honestly, this is so much more personal. There’s zero artifice here. Instead an internal dialogue made public, a tear-soaked letter to self, asking to help make sense of it all, to get through this. I’m most moved by the albums sheer stillness. [Oxymoron intended.] Colour me impressed Jason.

Stay For The Sorrow is out now on Sound In Silence with all that implies (Handmade CDR, limited run, insert sheets, download codes….precious things. The irony of its February 14th release date was not lost upon the [sic] writer team.