In 2018, I visited Newgrange, a prehistoric passage tomb in present-day Ireland. Constructed before Stonehenge around 3200 BCE, the monument reflects pagan cosmology and represents the cycle of life, death, and rebirth present in all nature. The tomb is aligned such that when the sun rises on the winter solstice, its light travels through an opening above the entrance, illuminating the altar in the back of the tomb. The winter solstice is both the shortest day of the year and the turning point in which days become longer again–when life is born anew, and death becomes beginning. Witnessing the light passing through the tomb thousands of years later, I left profoundly impacted.
On February 9th, 2019, Icelandic composer Johann Johannson passed away unexpectedly. His work has always and continues to inspire my own, and so in hearing the news, I was aggrieved. I started this album as a meditation on life, death, and rebirth–my own personal “Newgrange” if you will–though expressed through sound instead of stone.
I wasn’t prepared, however, to confront this so directly when my little brother Stephen suddenly passed away a few months later on August 4th, 2019. The grief was too overwhelming, so I put the album away, unsure if it would ever–could ever–be finished.
After four years, the album faded in the entanglement of grief and memory. Amidst a pandemic, I experienced a debilitating injury and the near deaths of both of my parents (on separate occasions, thankfully). However, I also experienced the profound joy of marrying my soulmate. In short, I experienced Life, and I began to hear the album again.
And so, I completed Passages, and I am proud to present it now. My hope is that this resonates with some of you; as you experience life, perhaps listen to this and be reminded that you are not alone in your experience. Or take a trip to an ancient tomb and be reminded that people thousands of years ago experienced the same.
Jonathan Yandel, 2023
- Passages (Nightfall)
- Sullied Garment of the Soul
- The River
- Passages (Daybreak)
Composed, performed, and produced by Jonathan Yandel.
Instruments used: piano, guitar, live loops, various effects and treatments.
© 2024 Jonathan Yandel, under exclusive license to Oclassica OÜ.