Today The Beautiful Fear (aka Matthew Bannister) has released his new double album, The Waltz of the Moonshine Blind. The Brooklyn/Miami-based, English producer/musician re-connected with himself after a stint in rehab and came to find expression for his darker traumas through music. The result is a collection of songs that’s as meticulously detailed and focused as it is an elusively stunning piece of musical work. Listen and share the new album here.
Now six years sober, it’s been a transformative journey for Bannister. The Waltz of the Moonshine Blind details his struggles with mental health as well as breaking the cycle of addiction. Turbulent emotions are layered, etched and textured “cine-manically” while he wrestles with a hopeful yet atavistic longing. It’s a brave stance from an artist who has decided to make himself vulnerable in terrifically raw ways to the audience. But there’s more to it than just a spontaneous confessional. Bannister elaborates, “I coined the term ‘The Beautiful Fear’ in an attempt to describe the terrifying yet beautiful process of change one makes in life to try and find a better version of oneself. The good days are on the other side of the fear.”
Each song falls into either the “manic” or “depressive” category. “Present But Never There,” the newest single and video that premiered with BlackBook Magazine, is in the “manic” category. It conveys the alternating fleeting highs mixed with the valleys of anxiety one experiences in withdrawal. Feeling like you are constantly missing something, like losing your oldest ‘friend’, even if you know that ‘friendship’ is ultimately abusive. “Unpacking the past is a big part of recovery” Banister states. “Making sense of it all rather than continually self-medicating to create a barrier between oneself and the buried issue.”
Augmenting this message are two unconventional videos that he previously self-released this summer. “Arndale Whale” reflects the album’s overarching themes beautifully by diving into the deeper experiences of ego, religion, deceit, guilt, shame, and denial. The visuals operate as a flashback, retelling the story of sexual abuse Bannister experienced at school as a ten-year-old. It’s still an open criminal case, filed at the Thames Valley Police Station (UK) in 2018. “Doll’s Eyes Lifeless Eyes” exhibits an extraordinary musical dynamic ranging from distant ethereal soundscapes to thunderous crescendos while the corresponding video/conceptual short film expresses the profound sense of hopelessness and defeat that can often accompany depression.
Building a rich, contemplative mosaic from the shards of the past into something redemptive is what Bannister hopes that The Beautiful Fear project can offer, especially during these times of seemingly insurmountable anxiety. “The work shows that there is hope. That there is a way to slip outside of the circle, the dance, the charade, the Waltz. That hope can be for anyone in the circle of self-abuse, whether that be a substance or a relationship.”
A gifted creative as well as musician, Bannister’s accomplishments include being named one of ‘The World’s Top Creatives Under 40′ by Wallpaper*, ‘Avant Guardian’ by Surface, and the creative agency he co-founded has won many awards, including an Emmy®. He is even credited as one of the inventors (along with Michel Gondry) of the concept of ‘bullet time’ (The Matrix). He has taught at Parsons School of Design, The School of Visual Arts, Cornell University, and the graduate school at Princeton University.
Fun fact: Bannister’s grandmother’s cousin’s son is Robert Fripp!