Human, Insignificant, the latest release by Adelaide artist Sweeney, begins at once with a haunting voice and piano: an immediate introduction of the two instruments which go on to carry the rest of this despairingly elegant work.
This is the second album by Jason Sweeney, who has also released music under Panoptique Electrical, and has again enlisted frequent collaborator Zoë Barry, who provides a textural backdrop of cello on a number of tracks. Especially effective are the icy timbres of the instrument on the opener ‘Woebegone’, which work in concert with the fragile, yet somehow warm feeling which Sweeney’s voice evokes.
The background soundscapes continue to draw the listener in throughout the album; cello scratchings create an intriguing tonal contrast against the dreamy dirge of ‘Let Him Go’, and claustrophobic rumblings work well behind the beautiful, frail keys in ‘We All Seeing’.
A sense of lethargy starts to set in, however, as from the opening song the listener is drawn into an abstract, emotional mire so encompassing that we are barely given a chance to escape from it. This feeling can work in favour of the intended artistry as it creates a powerful, overarching tone to the album as a whole. With such a sparse instrumental presence though, some of the understated theatrics delivered on the title track and other pieces in the middle of the album can get lost in the monotone bleakness.
The delicate ‘As Water Does’ and instrumental ‘Hem’ are a welcome touch of lightness to close an album which can, at times, struggle under the weight of its own poignancy, but delivers an elegiac experience of beauty through the lens of desolation.