All_men_unto_me In_transit

All Men Unto Me - In Chemical Transit


Sometimes the story behind a song or a record might be even more important than the music itself because that story might speak – on a larger scale – for a group of people whose “voices” might otherwise go unnoticed. In a way, it’s the old “outsider speaking for the outsiders” - theme. Yes, the story behind Rylan Gleave’s debut In Chemical Transit is a big one, an important one – nevertheless, please do not take the musical qualities of the record as a slight and light side-note.

So, let’s get to some of the important things first: In Chemical Transit is Rylan’s debut under the moniker All Men Unto Me, which in my end is always the end to “When it comes to all humans, in the end, they’re all just men unto me.” Where I come from, my circle of friends, the area and the time I grew up in – taking these three important elements into account – I am happy to say that neither gender nor sexuality nor religion played a role for how we/I treat(ed) people. They’re all just men unto me. Thus, reading about the fact that Rylan has been going through a bodily transit over the last few years doesn’t effin bother or interest me when it comes to him as person. It also doesn’t not matter in many aspects when talking about his music that the record title is somewhat programmatic, that taking testosterone had its wished for effects on his body. It surely had its effects on his voice and I hope there will be a time, when he can perceive his voice the way I (and many others) do it: a highly interesting pitch, a grand ability and skill that he hopefully will make good use of on many, many records to come, because there is something in his voice that strikes a chord.

That chord is also struck by some recordings that he found when putting together the record – he found recordings of his 14-year-old self singing Mozart’s aria ”Voi che sapete cosa é amor” (“You (ladies) who know what love is…”) from The Marriage of Figaro. Additionally, he found another recording of the same aria recorded at a point in time, when he had been taking testosterone for eight weeks even though he knew he had to take his music teachers exams over the same period of time – talking about the inner strife and urgency to “transit”, ay?! Talking about the wish to finally be who one wants to be, who one feels to be!? Talking about the acceptance of all the negative side effects (I do not want to imagine how he must have felt having to take that exam) just “for the sake of” finally being rid of hiding!! Listening to this disclosing of the “transit” and its effects is breath-taking in so many ways and on so many levels.

However, as mentioned before – do not forget about the music! In Chemical Transit is a miracle brew of some modern Avantgarde, Neo-Classical and even some Post-Punk’ish elements. The nine tracks and 42 minutes oftentimes remind me of Lingua Ignota – not because of the personal depths and stories behind the record but because of the audibly classically trained voice and the way that he makes use of it. Rylan is able to use it like another layer of music; the opening track ”Lament” already shows that: After nearly 2,5 minutes of the somewhat soothing and calming intro only consisting of elongated, nicely reverberating singular bass drum beats (might also be a Classical drum) we are confronted with his high-pitched unforgiving screams aching in pain and yet, there is something else: there are two more vocal lines, one a near-guttural and sometimes inaudible growl and the other some of his classically trained melodies showing all the skills, all the harmonies he can deliver. Sometimes there is even a fourth vocal line in place – it becomes quite clear that the voice and its effects, its transitions and its processes are detrimental to the understanding of this record.

This record is somewhere between All Bitches Die and Scott Walker maybe even some Diamanda Galas but please do not link it to stuff like Björk or Myrkur, I love these two musicians but do not mistake their music with their importance and storytelling. Yes, Rylan surely is a good storyteller in and of himself, but there is neither Björk’s jazziness nor Myrkur’s folksiness in his voice. His music is much more personal, there is no distance between his performance and his story on the one, and the audience and our individual (and biased) perception on the other side. The fact that Rylan is part of the collective around Ashenspire and healthyliving might help get noticed but believe me, this record is as amazing as these two acts and there are many moments on this record where goosebumps is an understatement. Two more examples before I leave you to enjoy and dive into this record: Listen to the gloriosity of the Classical interlude ”turns – delight, fire, misery” being destroyed by screams and some perfectly interwoven cello parts (contributed by Simone Seales) and then witness the awesome Post-Punk of ”FREEZING / FLAMES” pumped forward by some great electronics (brought along by Ollie Hawker) when Rylan shows that he also does metal vocals for said Ashenspire. Here Rylan and his collaborators (including Ewan Miller on the bass drum and Edward Cohen on the piano) show how to do modern music with classical instruments and make it sound like Jazzcore.

Rylan Gleave or All Men Unto Me is another example why heaviness not necessarily comes from heavy riffs but can come from the heaviness in emotional journeys, in transits from one spot or location, from one self to another being can be as heavy. Especially when it is so well-composed and delivered, when the idea behind it might speak for many others. And yet speaks for that one human being alone and in a way still shows that we are all humans and we should be nothing but men unto us all. Thank you Rylan.