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Mun Sing
Inflatable Gravestone Jonathan Wright , May 31st, 2023 08:12

Songs of remembrance. Jonathan Wright is moved by Mun Sing’s reflections on the death of their father

Arguably, a sense of grief never resolves itself. Following the deaths of those closest to us, we carry them with us. The rawness recedes, but the past can suddenly intrude into the present. Especially if, like Mun Sing (aka Harry Wright of electronic duo Giant Swan), you set out to explore your feelings towards your late father, a man who struggled with substance addiction and died suddenly in 2020.

In part, this is a lyrical exploration with folk-inflected vocals from South London’s MX World. The album draws on Wright’s late father’s rehab diaries, occasionally using sentences verbatim. There’s often a sense of tenderness in these moments. That’s especially true on the haunting ‘Spirit And Legacy And Muckiness’, where the title alone says much about the way Mun Sing is digging into difficult emotions. The song’s multitracked refrain of “You feel no guilt” is eerie and ambiguous, an accusation but also an observation rooted in forgiveness.

Elsewhere, individual song titles alone call to mind the day-to-day dreariness of dealing with someone with addiction issues. Whether this was intended or not, ‘Waiting In The Car’ put me in mind of having to stop off on a journey while someone you love nips into a grim-looking house to purchase a euphemistically named package – or, more prosaically, just stopping at the off-licence to buy a steadying can or bottle. The title of ‘Squabble’ is, you would suppose, self-explanatory.

Musically, much of the album is carried by staccato electronics, like so many stippled analogies for the recurring realisation that someone has gone, the way this knowledge can suddenly hit you anew. At other times, notably on ‘Inheritor’, ominous bass notes convey a sense of depression about to descend. The tracks are often discordant and jerky, so as a listener you can never entirely relax

All of this might become just too oppressive if it weren’t for those moments where MX World’s vocals are to the fore, humanising the soundscapes on ‘The Poison Garden’ and ‘Helhest Azrawl Smirks’. Flashes of absurdity also lift the mood. Closer and title track ‘Inflatable Gravestone’ is a musical collage built from laughter, which then gives way to a recording of Wright’s father breathing in his sleep. It’s a track that’s a deeply inappropriate reaction to tragedy but also, as in Milan Kundera’s The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting when a hat drops into a freshly dug grave and mourners get the giggles, one that’s human and true. Better after all to laugh now and celebrate a life in all its maddening, messy, mucky difficulty than to dwell on the false resolution of the funeral.