Updated: Dec 10, 2020
"Graphic Bleed Outs": Quelle Chris & Chris Keys (ft. Melanie St Charles, Merrill Garbus)
Produced: Chris Keys
Album: Innocent Country 2
‘Friends turn to villains/ and feelings turn into drinks/ some fetishise the drama/ the armour covered in chinks’
Despite the hit that the arts took from the coronavirus pandemic this year we had a lot of great music come our way in 2020. In some ways, I wanted my choice for track of the year to reflect our times but instead, partly for self-satirising and partly genuine, I chose ‘Graphic Bleed Outs’ from Innocent Country 2.
The album itself is a lengthy project that, conceptually, is a bit all over the place but has one of the best ending sequences of songs ever. From ‘Black Twitter’ all the way to the final track ‘Fifoalsa/Credits’ the album is comedic, heartfelt, gut-wrenching, uplifting, pensive and beautifully scored. But none hit as hard as ‘Graphic Bleed Outs’, a musically dissonant track that details the emotional toll of a break up with delicate and emotive lyricism. With a haunting and jazzy hook from Tune-Yards vocalist, Merrill Garbus, the song balances out Quelle Chris’ uncharacteristically bright performance with the content of the verses.
‘A thief who greets burlap sack full of hearts/ he wishes he could pawn but they still beat while apart/ now that’s a living soul/collabos with the shadows and the dance routines with the ghosts/ cause not that many mistreatments get deleted in post’
For a song that details the pain of separation the instrumental is surprisingly up-beat, summery with gentle strings in the background and a gorgeous flute solo that rises with complete freedom and joyful expression. It’s in this dissonance between the content and the delivery where the emotional power of the song lies.
If the dense and ‘graphic’ imagery doesn’t hook you then the instrumental will with its colourful keys and almost xylophone soundscape. This is the beautiful death, the perfect betrayal and Quelle Chris gives us a song that documents it in all its horrifyingly mesmerising detail.