Disemballerina use dark sounds to explore reaction to stresses, trauma on mesmerizing EP ‘Fawn’

Without dumping 200 words about my current life situation and the absolute hell I’ve lived in for the past nine months, let’s just say I’ve gotten a sobering battle with handling stress and trauma, trying to figure out how to live without crushing anxiety and complete lack of safety eating away at me. It’s a major reason why people trying to give advice like “suck it up” is particularly infuriating.

It was an ideal moment for “Fawn” the new EP by Disemballerina (their fifth studio release overall) to fall into my lap, because when art tries to dig into the darkness and find meaning, it can be cathartic and massively helpful. The band describes their music as “queer outsider chamber music,” and the three tracks on here can both soothe and help identify with the shadows, working their way into your bloodstream. The band—Jennifer Christensen (cello, harp), Ayla Holland (bajo quinto, electric and acoustic guitars, ebow), Myles Donovan (viola, harp, marxophone, glass harp)—uses each of the tracks to highlight fight, flight, and freeze, the three survival modes when one is facing a panic or trauma event that can be crippling to one’s everyday life. The music here feels like it embodies each level, helping you face them and make sense. And while the band is not metallic in the traditional sense, there’s a heavy sense of doom at the heart of this, creating a jarring aesthetic with which many heavy music fans are bound to identify.   

“Pancada” gets started as the strings trickle, and sounds grow and spread like a mysterious fog, quivering in calm but foreboding spirit. Things pick up as the strings lean and strike, slowly plodding the steps as the dramas swells underneath. Dark waters wash over wounds, the ambiance swells and darkens, and calls pulsate with chimes as the track fades out. “Somnambulist” has strings shivering as acoustic guitars add a new texture, and a woodsy folk flourish sends shivers down your spine. Then, gentle waters sooth wounds, your flesh cools off, and echoes rumble as the final moments bring balance. “Garnets” closes the EP with melodies dancing and the power rushing along, flushing into ominous haze. Elements pelt like tiny ice daggers, shadows thicken and get more immersive, and everything slowly ashes into the horizon, delicately letting go of your hand.

The elements of fight, flight, and freeze are things many of us can understand, and our reactions to trauma can be quite varied, which Disemballerina focus on with the hushed and lovely “Fawn.” Their chamber-friendly instrumental creations can border on doom at times and definitely simmer in clouded waters, but the music  can be helpful for anyone going through these struggles who just need a place to reflect. These three songs are the perfect bed in which to lie, connect to what’s challenging your mind, and give yourself some space to understand the struggle and figure out a way to fight again.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/disemballerina/

And here: disemballerinapdx.bandcamp.com

To buy the album, go here: https://riffmerchant.bandcamp.com/album/fawn

For more on the label, go here: https://riffmerchant.bandcamp.com/

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