Describing depression, especially to those who don’t understand the experience or haven’t been through it themselves, is not an easy thing. There’s this common preconception that it’s some kind of state of chronic unhappiness, but the reality is perhaps worse than that: it’s a continuum of anhedonia, an emotional flattening where both joy and sadness are lost into fugue. Those things that once entertained and engaged us are now a chore, and those mundane tasks become a physical labour to rise to. The previously effortless becomes leaden.
Worst of all is its insidious nature, the way it seems to creep in at the edges like a parasite, until one day you realise weeks or months have gone by just feeding this cannonball of apathy that now sits inside your chest, constantly making excuses for it and building coping mechanisms around it.
It becomes part of life, and life gets lost into it.
We sit in hope of the day that some chink in the armour, some ray of light will magically break through the endless grey curtain and lift us up, but it never does. New things don’t rise any passions, and so we retreat into the nostalgic and the familiar swaddles us in a cocoon of protectionism. Reaching out to those we care about becomes embarrassing and tiresome, and so we withdraw from conversation, safely locking ourselves away from change.
I don’t know Dennis’ story, whether he went through the same feelings during his spell, but the way Colours in the Dark is tilted both sonically and titularly makes me think so. Haunted spoken word samples talk cryptically from the darkness, most tracks unravelling on beds of muted and reverberant synth stretching moments both precious and dull over an empty canvas. Light ekes delicately out here and there, suggestive electronica peeking its head in at the edges in promissory rays that expose our frayed extremities to the possibility of hope.
Listening to this you won’t experience depression, you possibly wouldn’t even know this came from a low time in Dennis’ life, but you recognise it where you see or hear it. It’s written in the ponderous chords, the drawn out tones, the murky drones, the questioning, questing, probing spoken words: the desire to become whole again, and bring colour back to the world.