Tuning in to the infinite frequencies saturating whatever psychic plane is currently decaying into dust, Lebanese artist Anthony Sahyoun’s proper debut, Proof By Infinite Descent, is a masterpiece. Harnessing raw shards of familiar touchstones, Sahyoun posits a world where tragedy and disaster aren’t the necessary currency to uphold the status quo. Sifting through fields of sonic and emotional debris, Proof of Infinite Descent is an intimate, vulnerable portrait looking for beauty in the most unlikely places and finding purpose in an attempt to cut the formidable threads that keep us barreling toward calamity.
Sahyoun calls Proof By Infinite Descent ‘a response to contemporary Lebanon – and, by extension, our fractured world.’ Dissonance rings prominent in the shuttered alleys, abandoned to the jackals looking for bones to pick clean. “The New World” bellows like a warning from above, firebrand drones streaming like flames through dehydrated jungles. Orchestrations lilt, framed by chromatic scales, attempt to escape the growing hordes, but the mud soaks in and pulls the whole piece into the ground. We’re all mourning the loss of the sky as the static grinds off the last bits of surface sheen.
Fighting back the pull of nihilistic despair, Sahyoun weaves threads of cathartic humanity such as the sacred screed of “Irhamna,” a prayer to Mar Roukoz, the patron saint of plagues and epidemics. This continues to be one of my favorite songs of 2021 and with each new horror unleashed in the world, it takes on a new sense of consequence and urgency. “The Tenderness of Limbs” follows the vultures as they rip through the heart of the city, unleashing incalculable chaos. Blown-out rhythms gobble up the darkness while electronics sing with destructive rapture overhead. Proof By Infinite Descent scours every divergent path, holding multitudes in its grasp as Sahyoun pulls the trepid strings.
Intensity lines every crevice of Proof By Infinite Descent, even in the quieter moments like the closing duet of “Requiem” and “Jesuit Literature Drowning In The Mediterranean.” The former is “an offering to those who lost their lives in the Beirut port explosion of Aug 4 2020,” and in the funereal arrangements of repeating organ patterns, a sweet, solemn reminiscence blooms. Carrying the weight of the world, the emotions pull us down to our knees. Sahyoun’s prayer for those lost is one of the heaviest moments of the album. “Jesuit Literature Drowning In the Mediterranean,” in turn, reimagines the Levant without its history of outside colonization. Bowed drones move slowly, like an uncomfortably choreographed death dance moving toward the blacked-out horizon.
Proof By Infinite Descent packs in lifetimes. Songs for the living, the dead, those we loved, and those we abhor, all moving together in a knotted web as the world rots from the inside out. Harmonic waves mine the jagged chasms of a ruined land, but Sahyoun’s sonic brilliance morphs into golden shoots of dawn on the other side of cataclysm. This stunning debut is a dynamic meditation that will certainly leave a mark.