"Mirtazapine" by TigermaskReview
It has been a while since we were able to feature Tigermask in the magazine (and in the interim, his standalone track "Timeless" appeared on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Three' in April of 2020) but now his new single "Mirtazapine" is out tomorrow on Apple Music to be followed by its parent album ‘Cocoon' via all platforms on 30th July.
The album as a whole is the second in a conceptual trilogy, following his debut ‘Ovum' of November 2015 and it is clear that the artist has thought very hard about not just the content of the project but also the fine detail of the structure as he tells me that "Mirtazapine" sits deliberately at the midpoint of ‘Cocoon' (and I suppose therefore at the pivot point of the entire trilogy) with preceding tracks being significantly different to those succeeding it as the protagonist experiences a form of re-birth.
The context of the whole is essential to understanding it as the cycle clearly has major auto biographical themes. Tigermask began creating it as far back as 2006 as he emerged from a "..near decade-long tunnel" of ill health and consequent solitude. (If the single's title doesn't' convey much to you, then perhaps my revealing that it shares its name with an anti-depressant does).
This sense of being cut off from the world naturally informs the album title and is crucial to understanding how an individual can battle the effects of poor mental health, gain the self awareness necessary to try to emerge from the consequences and perhaps most importantly for an article such as this, use music as a therapeutic pathway for emerging back into the world. It is highly illuminating that Tigermask says of himself and his musician identity:
"I've never really felt much like a musician. To this day, I've never been in a band or moved in social circles driven by mutual passions for music. It simply became my chosen form of expression – a means to an end. The story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it has always led the way. Any new skill or instrument I've ever learned has been in service to the story and never the other way around."
In this context, we can see how deeply personal these songs are to Tigermask in telling his own, unique story, yet like all good music, they resonate with the listener as well as the writer & you can use whichever expression or idea you feel most comfortable with to try to relate his writing about being trapped inside for so long with only his own thoughts as company (and how destructive that can be..) with what all of society has experienced over the last year or so: incredibly topical yet obviously it was all written long before the shared experience was imagined.
"Mirtazapine" itself describes how the taking of a single new pill broke a terrible cycle of insomnia through a straight 48 hour sleep to a new chapter in his life: as pivotal to that as the song is within the project. A very stately & evocative track, it radiates a surprisingly calm dignity (not qualities often applicable to songs about mental health nor the effects of pharmaceuticals), it builds steadily to reflect the drug taking effect I imagine and as it progresses, the initial more jarring sounds and anguished vocals evolve into gentler tones of healing and salvation.
He describes his style as "subversive folk cinematic" and I think the current single bears this out: it's a deep subject yet you can picture what he is describing quite well after hearing the song. In terms of any affinity to style then as I have always been with the music of Tigermask, I don't find the challenge easy. It's solo work so he manages to say what he wants to say with the minimum of instrumental parts (which can more easily translate into live performances) though in the closing stages of "Mirtazapine" you get to hear guest vocals by Zoe Hobman as "Mother".
Above all, I think my general conclusion is that as striking a song as "Mirtazapine" may be, and it will I hope stand on its own and gain airplay as such, its true meaning and significance will be enhanced by hearing it within the context of ‘Cocoon': potentially we are just missing so much more by hearing it alone. You can see why Pink Floyd didn't care for releasing singles off albums.
In the meantime, please look out too for the video which accompanies "Mirtazapine". It's at https://www.facebook.com/whoistigermask/videos/2724408587859195