Coping With Loss Through Music

Think of a loss that you have experienced, how did you get through it? Everyone copes in different ways but one of the more increasingly common methods has become music. An artist expresses themselves in their art and this can be communicated in various ways. The three albums I have selected each show a different way, the first through atmosphere, the second through lyricism, and the last through sampling.

25,000 Kittens. Courtesy of 25,000 Kitten’s Bandcamp

The first is actually an EP, titled 25,000 Kittens, it is a 20 minute long ambient EP released by an artist of the same name. It consists of just two songs that are about 10 minutes long, they were created after the loss of the artist’s second cat, Hanakichi. Both songs are named after his two deceased cats, Boo and Hanakichi. The two songs on this album utilize nostalgic feeling samples to immerse the listener in its atmosphere. The weight of every single part of this project is treated with such care that you feel his pain. The track “Boo,” finishes with about a minute of cats meowing and ambience surrounding it to give the impression that Boo is living somewhere better now. This project was made out of honest love for his two cats which is what makes it so devastating. 

The most famous and acclaimed example of loss in music is Mount Eerie’s, A Crow Looked At Me. The album was released shortly after the passing away of indie legend Phil Elverum’s wife. After giving birth to their first child in 2015, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and in 2016 she lost her battle. The weight of this tragedy was felt deeply by Elverum and on March 24th of the following year he released A Crow Looked At Me. It is a love letter to his now deceased wife, it details his life shortly before and after her passing. 

A Crow Looked At Me is a bleak listen, it is a very bare bones indie folk record. He doesn’t try to convince you of anything in this album, he simply states his feelings. The best example of this would be on the first track, “Real Death,” where he sings: 

I go downstairs and outside and you still get mail, a week after you died a package with your name on it came and inside was a gift for our daughter you had ordered in secret and collapsed there on the front steps I wailed. A backpack for when she goes to school a couple years from now. You were thinking ahead to a future you must have known deep down would not include you.” 

As the listener you can picture his situation, it allows for you to place yourself inside his world and understand his feelings. The delivery of these lyrics are quiet, as if he understands what happens next. A Crow Looked At Me is an honest dive into the feelings of grief. It is simply a man’s way of grieving with the loss of his wife. 


REGRET WHEN IT WAS LOST. Courtesy of Death’s Dynamic Shroud’s Bandcamp

The final album is an album released by one of the most prominent groups in the vaporwave scene for the past decade, Death’s Dynamic Shroud. In 2014 they released their album, REGRET WHEN IT WAS LOST, unlike their albums before and after, this album was focused on loss. Many other Death’s Dynamic Shroud releases focus on more abstract ideas. Derelict Megatower is a concept album based on the idea of a never ending tower being constructed. World Olympics tries to encapsulate what it feels like to be in the Olympics. Regret chooses to differ from those albums by focusing on something real, that many people can relate to, heartbreak. 

Regret is the morning after a break up, it is remembering the good times you had together and feeling the weight of those emotions. The album wears this concept on its sleeve with its samplework by sampling many R&B songs that have lyrics based on relationships. On the track “Brain Death,” the lyrics, “Sitting in an empty room trying to forget the past,” are repeated until they are ingrained into your head. 

Regret is a cinematic experience that tells the story of a relationship now ended. This album represents another part of loss, the loss of a relationship with someone else, not through death, but through different paths in life. 

Loss is something that everyone experiences at one point in their lives. People express loss in different ways and music can be one of them. Music is one of the most expressive mediums of art as it can directly lay out your vision. These pieces of music tell a story that is uniquely personal to them, and we as listeners are just lucky to know of them. Rest in Peace Boo, Hanakichi, and Geneviève Elverum, your memories will live on forever.