Review Summary: "Are we mistakes? Or are we going exactly to plan?"
Clinically diagnosed misery is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. Any living being that suffers at the expense of depression or anxiety knows how truly confusing living with it can be. We may forget it's embedded within the wrinkles of our brains; a job opportunity comes along, a house is bought, a seemingly perfect relationship is built, everything seems to be moving along in the right direction, the way you intended it to be. We don't pay attention to our deeply rooted desolation in these moments, these fleeting phases of happiness and bliss. Yet it's a fact of existence that in an instant, everything that you have built can come crashing down, the fruits of your labor squashed and soiled, lying dead at your feet. It's an overwhelming thought that begs to ask another; Why? Why is life so cruel? Why is it so fragile if it is the only thing that we have? Why have we continued to search for the meaning of it all for centuries, and if we continue to search for it, does that mean that there may be no meaning to it at all? All of these mysteries, these unanswered cries for help into a void that won't cry back, can be overwhelming. It can suck the energy from our bodies and replace it all with fear and a deafening sadness that envelops every inch of our minds and hearts. It can leave us trapped inside our homes, bed ridden, unwilling to walk out the front door, afraid of what may happen beyond that threshold. The pills don't work. The smiles are all pseudo. And we know deep down that the banes of our existence are out there, the demons that we have to face day in and day out for no other reason than to simply survive, ready to feast upon us.
But amongst this barren wasteland of sorrow, is there the possibility of a solution? A key to fit every individual lock? Perhaps knowing exactly what it feels like to be at your lowest can provide a cure or an explanation, a way to unearth the root causes of all your greatest terrors and woes in order to combat them. And the only way to do that is to take a dismal journey; A swan dive into the abyss of mental health, to discover what it truly means to feel sick in the head. Enter Uboa, a lone Australian artist who has made a bit of a name for herself in the underground, dabbling in dark ambient, harsh noise, industrial, and drone metal. As expected, all of these genres and each of their unique perks are melded together on this record. But to say "The Origin Of My Depression" is a conventional album for these respective styles would be an outright lie. This album isn't meant to provide comfort, invoke pleasure, or create jaw-dropping walls of static. This album was created for one reason; To destroy you, to take every last glimmer of hope left within you and black it all out.
Take note of the artwork on the cover; A patient in a hospital bed, their legs wrapped in white sheets, the curtains closed shut. This alone should serve as a metaphorical "Parental Advisory" sticker for anyone who wants to give this album a whirl, except instead of cusses and innuendos, it's a warning for the deeply despondent material being provided on this record. Much like a delusional or suicidal individual held in captivity, "The Origin Of My Depression"" displays what it's like to have a mental snap, a sudden urge to end everything that you were gifted with at birth, in the blink of an eye. It's not for the faint of heart, and if you went into this album feeling cheerful, you will certainly come out the other end chewed up, devoid of positivity and empty inside.
"The Origin Of My Depression" is relentless, but not always in the sense of brutal instrumentation. Of course, there is plenty of that to go around. "Please Don't Leave Me" is a 2 minute onslaught of ear-splitting power electronics, sinister guitar chords, and demented shrieks, with brief pauses in between that make you think it might let up before pummeling you into submission yet again. "Lay Down And Rot" sounds like something ripped straight from a sci-fi horror flick; The rattling of various metals and the eerie drone slowly building upon one another before reaching a supersonic climax, the agonizing wails and skull-splitting noise giving the listener a vibe akin to being plunged through a portal straight to hell. Every song throughout this tracklist is accompanied by Uboa's blood-curdling screams. But what ultimately makes "The Origin Of My Depression" so damn unrelenting is the consistent feeling of dread and hopelessness it manages to invoke. Each individual track reads like a different sickness, extracted and recreated in the form of an aural experience. When Uboa isn't blasting you in the face with these heavy, abrasive waves of sound that perfectly capture what it's like to have a schizophrenic episode or an anxiety attack, she's taking you on a stroll through a desolate tundra, colourless and endless, not a single soul around to wipe your tears or bring you peace. "Detransitioning" kicks off the album with sullen piano keys and female harmonizations, forming a heart-rending crescendo that swells upwards before eventually glitching out. "An Angel Of Great And Terrible Light" sounds like something The Microphones could've made if they were influenced by the likes of Sleep or Planning For Burial, the acoustic guitars transitioning into electric ones, the melancholic vocals becoming more and more intense before giving way to howls once again, the looping xylophone melody and the thumping bass drum simultaneously keeping rhythm and adding to the atmosphere. And the title track features these ghostly croons, complimented by wind chimes and a soft spoken word passage:
"Love is not the origin of my depression.
Gender dysphoria not the origin of my depression.
Poverty not the origin of my depression.
I try to grasp it,
And every answer fails.
You not the origin of my depression..."
Uboa continues to list off everything that she claims is not the source of all her pessimism on this cut, from eating disorders to social anxiety, before eventually pointing the finger at something - possibly a past lover or familial figure - as she belts out her signature howls once again. It's as if the whispers are symbolic of the voices inside your head, and all you want to do is rip your throat to bits as you holler and yell at them to make them stop, not realizing in that moment that they don't care and never will.
If mental illness was an element, "The Origin Of My Depression" would be its purest, concentrated, liquified form, held in a pill ready to be swallowed by anyone daring enough to take it. Once the last few seconds of "Misspent Youth" rang out and my headphones fell silent, not only was I fearful for Uboa's well being, but for my own as well. Maybe it's what we all could use; a wake up call, a moment in time so jarring and potent that it shakes you to your senses and makes you realize you should focus your attention inwards, to seek happiness so you will never have to relate so deeply to an album like this ever again. And maybe this album was meant for that; to turn you away from the morbid darkness that lives and breathes inside us all, no matter how much it consumes us.
If you enjoy "The Origin Of My Depression," that speaks volumes for what you are currently going through in life. And if you don't, all I can say is that I'm happy for you, and that I hope you don't ever find a reason to find solace here.