"I heard that what we think exists and that's what keeps me thinking this"
Imagine walking down a road with no name. All of your surroundings are familiar, yet indistinct: shapes, colors, and blobs of unlabeled items all around. Now explain to a fellow traveler where you've been and what you've seen. It's a difficult task, and frustratingly enough, the best comparison I can make to the challenge of communicating my experience with YouYourself&i. I don't think this music sounds like any other artist specifically, yet there are little moments where I could throw out the general comparison. Yet, every time I do, it feels extremely odd, like I'm stealing something away from him.
The closest comparison that comes to mind is how I felt when I first heard Beauty, the collection of rare, early Neutral Milk Hotel demos. I had been a huge fan of Neutral Milk Hotel, and with the luxury of hindsight, Beauty's brilliance seemed obvious - any idiot could have listened to those early recordings and understood what a talent Mangum was. While YouYourself&i sounds nothing like Neutral Milk Hotel, listening to the submission, all I could think of was that moment. How could anyone not hear the wealth of talent in these songs?
YouYourself&i is the project of Daniel Gélinas, who used various non-studio spaces to record the two part collection titled The Treacle Well. This staggering collection was recorded in two fragments, the first part recorded for ten days in November 2012 at an abandoned school and the second part recorded over a greater time span in found spaces like bedrooms, a rural church, and a parking lot next to the beach. If this approch to production seems unorthodox, just take a look at how Gélinas released the album. On the YouYourself&i Bandcamp, both sections of the album can be purchased, but only four tracks from each are listed, all of them scattered and out of order. As I first started to familiarize myself with Gélinas' work, these listings threw me for a loop. I loved what I heard, but something just felt off. Then after obtaining the entire collection - all two hours and twenty-eight songs of it - everything snapped into place.
Taking in a singular voice for two hours is a feat for any music listener, but over the last week I've continually gotten lost in this mamoth project, obsessively looping it over and over. I'm doing it again as I type this, as I've found it's almost impossible to detach myself from these tracks, some of the most fascinating submitted to WLFY in a long time. So, how do I do this music justice? At the end of this post you will find two tracks I've selected from his Bandcamp. I encourage you not to listen to either of them and to instead, just go buy the entire set, start at the begining, and sink in. I know only a very small amount of you will do this, so for the rest of you, hopefully these two songs will create a desire to investigate further.
While I can't really fully express why YouYourself&I is so incredibly special, at least not at this point, I can tell you what tips I found when listening to this collection that will help save you some time. First, as always, slap on the headphones. Second, you can't skip around to try and find a song that jumps out and grabs you. This isn't that kind of music. This is a collection that slowly reveals Gélinas as a unique master songwriter in line with Phil Elverum or Daniel Johnston (although once again, he sounds nothing like them). Third, by investing a lot of time with these songs, I've been hit by something powerful. It wasn't immediate, but this collection at some point just clicked and the album wrapped itself around every inch of my sensibilities.
I'm gulity of great hyperbole, but I promise, no matter what type of music listener you are, if you give this collection your honest attention and time, a great reward awaits. This collection has shaken me to the core and restored my hopeful outlook toward discovering new music. At the same time, I'm worried, considering just how many unknowns are out there, artistically pouring everything out only to go unnoticed. It's a sobering thought, but it does make listens like this that much more rewarding. Don't let Gélinas and his project YouYourself&i hide away any longer.