It doesn’t take long for shit to start getting weird when you’re not on the typical “wake up in the morning, sleep through the night” schedule, especially if you start pushing the time you do sleep further into the daylight hours. And the longer you’re on the vampire grind, and the longer you actually don’t sleep at all, the more things go from just a bit off to a point where you feel almost completely unlike all the people you see in the world who sleep normally. Feeling unreal and like other people and their regularly scheduled lives are completely alien, living in some other universe, becomes the normal.
This is the sentiment that provides the framework for local rapper vftvc’s (Vicky Flair the Voodoo Child) new album sounds of insomnia, which is a deeply candid attempt to explain and share the feeling of being an insomniac, and a drug-using, cynical, conflicted one at that. It’s rough in parts and it’s not hard to see that it’s spawned from a young mind dealing with a lot of issues (and not always in a healthy way), but it is striking for what it does right.
For one, it gets the feeling of insomnia and feeling distant from the world absolutely perfect. The tracks, all produced skillfully by beatmaker forest green, are designed to induce feelings similar to those that come with insomnia; they often drag along, there’s a lot of dreamstate sounds like bells and meandering horns, and the delivery is often very deadpan and low-energy (in a good way that drives the insomnia feeling home) but sometimes goes manic or gets heavily distorted in a psychedelic way (a bit Odd Future-esque).
The lyrics do much the same, often directly talking about the weird unliving state of being an insomniac, such as in the intro for “demons,” which is delivered in a way that makes it sound like an entry in an audio journal by someone losing their mind. In it Vicky delivers, in his standard listless voice and over a barking dog that really places it in a physical place (you can almost see him sitting in a dark room with the light of the day that’s already come again leaking through the blinds) the following, which we’re copying in its entirety because it gives an excellent summation of the feelings at play in this album:
“It’s around the end of July, and sleep has become a total stranger. I try to stay in the good frame of mind throughout this time, amidst all the things falling apart around me. But it seems in those twilight hours, those voices those [something, hard to hear], their influence in my head seems to get stronger and stronger, and I feel it puling me to the dark place. I try to rise above it, but. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.”
The levels of introspection and honesty here are strong, and impressive for a young creator. Whether or not you empathize with the rapper or support how vftvc deals with and sees life, which is admittedly a dark perspective most of the time, that he’s giving his perspective so fully makes the album rich. He’s not hiding much of anything here, though while he’s revealing the things that are making him depressed or conflicted, he’s also reveling in it a bit, and he doesn’t hide that either. It’s all on the table- the way he both loves and needs drugs and also sees the bad shit they’re doing to him, the way he isn’t sure if he likes himself or not or you or not but is also set in his ways and has developed a sort-of comfort with them, or at least he wants you to see it that way (something he also doesn’t hide).
The album shies away from nothing and will very likely make you uncomfortable for doing so in at least a few places, and some may not connect with it at all either for its roughness or its perspective, but because of that rawness and revelation, it’s also a striking piece of art from a young thinker worth watching. The whole album is well worth a listen, so get doing so below and get ready to feel a little…off.