Oftentimes, dreamy and delirious music can make feeling detached sound sexy. To be detached is to transcend, to let yourself float in a pool of sonic ecstasy where your reality doesn’t matter.
But for Vermont’s Babehoven, fronted by Maya Bon, detachment is a source of struggle, and Yellow has a pretty good reputation emphasizes that sense of irregularity, never allowing me to get fully comfortable in that parallel reality.
“Dissociative Tally” explores the experience of dissociation, the loss of continuity between thoughts, actions, time, and more, the epitome of detachment. Bon asks sincerely:
Do you ever feel you can’t
Keep up with the conversation?
Do you ever watch yourself walk around
In a dream?
The measured, trudging progress of the song feels heavy: instead of feeling like detachment is light and airy, detachment feels like a burden, a constant weight preventing you from going where you want to go with ease. For Babehoven, dissociation is more than haziness, dissociation is a myriad of hard-to-quantify obstacles keeping you from the beauties (and potential dangers) of the present. It doesn’t just feel wonky or sad, it can be a truly frightening experience.
“Older” leans into tape distortion, further warping the murky reality Bon’s set up. The saturated, reverberating soundscape sets up a dreamlike serenity, but as her vocals and synth line cycle up and down in pitch, I feel lulled into a woozy discomfort.
“For Babehoven, dissociation is more than haziness, dissociation is a myriad of hard-to-quantify obstacles keeping you from the beauties (and potential dangers) of the present.”
Bookended by some of the most haunting measures in music I’ve ever heard, “Dorian” is a feat. Steeped in childhood trauma, Bon’s lyrics reckon with the difficulties of growing older and navigating the world with such a fractured sense of self. “Dorian” ends with a Victrola-like grainy excerpt from the famous Moonlight Sonata, magnifying the sense of dread and reminding me of early silent horror films. I can’t help but sink deeper into my couch, clamoring for a sense of stability.
At three tracks, Yellow has a pretty good reputation is brief but mighty, channeling dread, depression, and delirium that weigh on me like a yoke. Babehoven’s production is brilliantly suited for the current climate as I oscillate between accelerating fear and abject drudgery in lockdown. But there’s also something super refreshing to me about art that takes dreamy soundscapes and refuses to use them as tools of escapism, instead rocking listeners like me into witnessing hard truths. Babehoven is not one to shy away from such difficulties, and that’s the energy I’m trying to manifest in 2021: complex challenges deserve more than quick fixes.
Devon (he/him) is a Cleveland-based event organizer. He loves radical theory, loud guitars, and hash browns. He lives on Twitter.