Paperhouse: On Emotion

Think of your favorite song. Regardless of whether it has lyrics or not, it probably elicits some sort of emotional response from you. Then again, even if a song isn’t your favorite, it is still most likely tied to a set of emotions and feelings. Can music even exist apart from a connection to the human condition? While this may seem impossible, I would urge you to consider the music of Monolake as a possible contender for completely soulless music.

Robert Henke, the man behind Monolake, has boldly produced music that severs itself from any emotional connection. This year, Henke released the album Ghosts, a sonically dense album that utilizes numerous simultaneous polyrhythmic melodies within a single track. The album features vocal samples of computer voices and, according to Henke, is based on a series of short stories he wrote; however, unlike most of his other work as Monolake, no sort of emotional connection is created.Ghosts recalls the sounds of IDM, garage, minimal techno, and dubstep, but these sounds are manifested as skeletal ghosts that bar themselves from human touch.

The idea of soulless and emotionless music may be alarming to some, but it is truly a remarkable achievement. I have never heard an album so meticulously crafted and mastered. The fact that each sound makes a statement solely based on its compositional strength and relationship to form, rather than its perceived emotional connection to the listener, forces the listener to pay attention to the physical effect each sound has on the body. When performing live, Monolake treats its audience to a multi-channel surround-sound experience complete with a spellbinding visual accompaniment. While witnessing this spectacle, listeners feel no thoughts of anger, darkness, love, happiness, or any other sort of emotion; rather, they are completely entranced by the physical effect the sound has on the body.

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