Ian Hawgood – Ambientblog
Written by ELF Radio (Team) on 03.10.2023
IAN HAWGOOD – WHERE YOU GO I CANNOT FOLLOW / AND THEN THERE WAS NOTHING
It is not unusual for a busy label (-owner) to take some time off. So when Home Normal’s Ian Hawgood mentioned the label’s hiatus in 2022 I thought he was taking a break from the busy release schedule to regain the energy to continue. Little did I know that the real reason was a very serious one – as can be read in his intimate personal notes about the background of these albums.
In short, Ian suffered from severe depression, even leading to an attempt to take his life. He was saved by his wife and close friends, who ‘made sure I didn’t say goodbye quite yet’.
It took him some weeks until he was glad they did.
These two albums – and their background told by Ian himself in the liner notes which are available on his Bandcamp release page – tell us about this dark period in his life. Where I Go You Cannot Follow is intended as ‘both a love letter and a goodbye letter to my wife’. And Then There Was Nothing ‘is a reflection on the moment when I was slowly fading after overdosing’.
I don’t think there are any other albums that are as deeply personal as this. Or maybe there are – but the story behind their existence is not often told as explicitly as this. Hawgood found it ‘a very hard decision to write about [this period]’, but felt ‘it was important to be open about the theme behind these two albums’.
‘I chose not to hide behind what has happened on a personal level if it meant that even one person could understand that they are not alone in their thoughts and feelings’.
The titles of both albums reflect the all-encompassing feeling of deep depression. But what does the music itself tell? This depends on how you listen and what you know about the context. It is of course impossible to ignore the story behind it once you read it (or even: once you read the album titles). But if you’d listen to this music without knowing anything about the personal tragedy behind it, you might describe it as warm and comforting. Peaceful. The music is open, floating, light even. As comforting as ambient music can be.
It was not Hawgood‘s intention to describe despair and darkness: ‘Both albums are a reflection on the perfection of fleeting moments of quietude as an observer, when life has faded away from a mental and then nearly a physical stand-point too. Both albums are a reflection of love and beauty in their purest form, without self, intention and control. These are love letters of peace; before, during and after the hardest and most traumatic of personal times’.
And this is the important message of this album to everyone struggling with depression:
‘There is help, support and love out there, even in the darkest of times. You are not alone in your feelings and thoughts. Life isn’t easy for any of us but we are not alone. I am deeply thankful for this’.