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Underground Unusualities #7: The Love Language of Playlist-Making


In this series, Jenna scours the musical expanse for unusual (but fitting) albums to soundtrack life’s tumult.

After hours of glowing on an intimate dance floor at a local Pride celebration, I started growing concerned that if I wasn’t home by midnight, my prince and I would pass like ships under the cover of starlit darkness. I had been surrounded by love, couples passionately growing closer and closer with every synchronized step. Still, I stood alone with two friends by my side — both of whom had partners waiting for them at home. Shortly after cooling down by the water tank, my fragile high diminished, prompting me to excuse myself into a car back to the other side of the bridge.

From a prism of dazzling neon and heart-pounding beats to seeing, hearing, and feeling blankness, I groped through my apartment before kicking off my Vans and rolling into my sheets fully dressed. My phone popped out of the tiny front pocket of my shorts. The screen naturally lit up, confirming my hope that he was still awake. While he had recently moved into the same time zone, we were still a couple of cities away. Nevertheless, we still engaged in our mild flirtation, ignited and endured by a pure love of memes and music journalism.

I had carried worry with me all day since he had posted a photo in our Twitter group chat of his new tattoo — a gargoyle on his forearm — with which he was less than impressed. Discovering the artist only a short period prior to booking the appointment, he had asked for line-work, but instead got realism. Unsure how else to console the unwanted permanence, I aided in his late-night cover up brainstorming session. I stressed the versatility of the wings: an angel, eagle, or owl would provide an easy break from the confines of the impulsiveness for which he resented himself.

Yet, that trait was precisely what I loved about him most. In my over-articulated life in which most actions need upward of three administrative rubber stamps to be initiated, I was offered a glimpse into a world turned by the force of passion every time I unlocked my phone. Meanwhile, I was left to move silently through a city in which one can love who they want, but I was facing the underdevelopment of what should be my two greatest romances — him, and myself.

As he continued to lift the mask of his commanding internet presence in these moments of vulnerability, I offered him peeks of my own life — past and present — through my main love language: making playlists. After the success of my post-hardcore offering, I attempted to break the fourth wall of his punk rock heart through my true love, depressive black metal. After nagging him over and over to listen to it, he had hardly budged, stating that he had to be in the right mood. I tried not to take it personally, but it was difficult not to when all the track selections were, indeed, so deeply personal.

EnteringShade of Mind
“Shade of Solitude”

“Shade of Solitude” by Czech soloist Entering — one of my favorite DSBM artists of all time — exposes the seedy world of love’s absence. “Too boring, too ugly, too pathetic, too weak…” a sampled voice laments before matters break out into all-out post-metal chaos. When embracing the walls of chilly riffs, I can still feel the cool floor of an old workplace’s handicapped restroom — a place where I’d let my back sink against the wall as I sunk into rock bottom. It was my only escape from the torture of being chained to a desk and getting distracted by texts that never came.

isleptonthemoonHelp Me Off the Ground

After the 15-minute journey of self-deprecating delusions disguised as a reality check, I am met with an equally dire, but a more brightly lit journey through crippling loneliness. isleptonthemoon’s “Moongazer” is a trek from the acoustic accompaniment of wildflower fields to the territory of astral explosions. The opener of the four-track album Help Me Off The Ground, “Moongazer” marked my ascent into air during my first big move from Baltimore to New Orleans. While I was unknowingly being taken to a zone congruent in emotional hazards, the hope of a new day outweighed any fear of a dour reality.

Wytch CodeThe Cure For Depression (Part 1)

Providing refreshing instances of clean singing within the scene, Wytch Code’s “The Cure For Depression (Part I)” croons just loudly enough that inner wails cannot be heard. As I finally left the malaise of swamplands for the clarity of the Pacific Northwest, I let the gentle bells guide me in breathing crisp pine and billowing fog. With progress pulsing through my ears, I was ready to take baby steps towards a satiable life. The red capsules in the single’s artwork symbolized the love I was ready to embody despite whatever side effects would be entailed.

Read my feature on Wytch Code.

SadnessCircle of Veins
“Eye of Prima”

The aptly named “Eye of Prima” by longtime favorite Sadness channels a gradually blossoming romance as winter melts into spring and spring whispers into summer. A give-and-take of quiet guitar solos and the grandiosity of a seafaring choir, the tides of the well-built track always arrive back together. As such, when one wave meets another, the water remains deep instead of running thin at the shore’s edge. I can see the peony buds floating down the pavement’s rain currents, exploring Sadness’ latest releases while I waited for the fresh and exciting buzz from my phone.

Read my review of Circle of Veins.

Sure, sharing the soundtrack to these intimate moments can make one feel more naked and afraid than expected, but with the right person, it can fill the void of absolute blankness.

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