Kameron Bogges isn’t exactly a household name. In fact, prior to today’s review, the only thing I had to go by is that he’s the sole proprietor of one-man experimental act Four Hoove Death Pig, who has an album dedicated to baking banana bread under its belt. Sadly, about a year ago or so, Bogges suffered the all-too-real hospitalization brought on by what I can imagine would be a manic episode and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The ongoing struggle, as well as coping with such a maligned mental health condition, inspired I’m Losing Myself, released under the guise of An Isolated Mind. As someone who’s battled his own share of mental health issues over the years, I went into I’m Losing Myself with an unhealthy amount of trepidation. I’ve rarely encountered anything dealing with mental health issues that were done tastefully,1 so I braced myself for what’s to come.
The result, both musically and in terms of talent, is terrifying. We’ve all heard the phrase “genre-defying” before, but rarely does it hold water when it comes to the music. Here, Bogges deftly paints ambient soundscapes both appealing (opener “We Are Fragile Vibrations”) and defeated (closer “I’ve Lost Myself”). There are frighteningly tight Voices-level atonality and polyrhythmic structures complete with clarinet (“Afraid of Dissonance”), soul-crushing doom that sounds like My Dying Bride taking notes after an early Pallbearer gig (the second half of “Pathologized Existence”), and a Blut Aus Nord-level assault giving way to a dreary, shimmery post-metal vibe (“Eternity in a Minute”). All these swift, sudden changes of mood and style should, in theory, result in massive trainwrecks, but Bogges expertly navigates each one with grace, like a more abrasive, no-fucks-given Devin Townsend.
And while musically Bogges is reminiscent of Townsend, vocally and lyrically he’s in the same league as Zao‘s furnace-throated poet, Daniel Weyandt. The way he venomously spits out “She said I’ll be back in a minute/A cold wind chilled me down to my essence/I knew she would never be back/I knew she was never there/Please help me” in “Eternity in a Minute” lays quite a gut-punch that would whiff in lesser hands. Bogges even compares his depression to that of the life of the immortal jellyfish in “Turritopsis Dohrnii,” and not once does it sound or feel hokey or contrived. Rather than portraying an image of being fucked up2 and running with it to shock and appall people, Bogges tastefully crafted songs containing his own personal thoughts on what it really feels like to battle an illness that’s still (sadly) a massive stigma in society today.
Even the production is appropriately suffocating, adding to the claustrophobic vibe I’m Losing Myself gives off. The clarinet in “Afraid of Dissonance” rings, brightening the mood ever so slightly after the sonic onslaught of powerfully overdriven guitars and frantic drums. If there was a nitpick, though, it could be the one-two punch of ambient instrumental closers “I’m Losing Myself” and “I’ve Lost Myself” which, at a combined twenty-seven minutes, might be a bit much for most listeners. I say “nitpick” because these two tracks are essential pieces, with “I’m Losing Myself” layering waves of noise both jubilant and terrifying before caving in on itself catastrophically at the end, and “I’ve Lost Myself” being the droning lull resulting in said implosion. Combined, both pack an emotional sucker-punch so potent that leaving them off the album would be absolutely criminal, but I can see why sitting through them could be a chore to some people.
While I “enjoyed” I’m Losing Myself, and by that I mean it’s an incredible and sincere statement on mental illness solely written and performed by someone who’s struggling with it, I honestly hope that Bogges is in a space that gives him happiness in some way, shape or form. I fully support him in his endeavors from here on out, as he is clearly talented as a musician, vocalist, and lyricist, but like with Townsend,3 I don’t want his talent to drive him to a place he’s not comfortable going. That said, I can’t thank him enough for I’m Losing Myself, as for once, mental health awareness is given some due justice.