I popped in A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed Is Inconceivably Mediocre… without having ever heard anything about its creator Yoñlu. Not through blogs, a press release, a Google search, or even Wikipedia.
What I listened to was an assortment of creativity, experimentation, and intimate exploration. Yoñlu‘s real name was Vinicius Gageiro Marques, who started playing the guitar, bass, drums, and mixers — effectively making his own music at age thirteen.
It’s more tremendous given that Vinicius taught himself English through watching television in his Brazilian home of Porto Alegre. Using his bedroom as a studio, Vinicius created the same music that would consume him.
Ana Maria Gageiro describes that her son “was serious, maybe too serious” (press release). While music is often viewed as an outlet for expression, Ana Maria remembers that “very early on, I understood that his sensitivity to the world was also his weakness.”
After first listen, I started reading the press release, which began as the usual biography, but whose tone soon became foreboding. I was reading an obituary, describing Vinicius’ life as context to both his music and suicide on July 26, 2006, just 36 days before his seventeenth birthday. He left a note thanking his parents for their support, as well as a CD of his music. It wasn’t until his father Luiz Marques discovered more music on his son’s computer that the true Vinicius was laid bare.
The opening “I Know What It’s Like” is a pleasant-sounding bossa nova number, until a few repeats almost depicts Vinicius’ life story: “I know what its like / To be left out when all your friends try the new hip suicide thing” and “You know that’s what I’m marred by / Memories of old times / Made me who I’ll never be.” Vinicius is bold in the experimental “The Boy And The Tiger” as he uses a variety of melodies and sounds to effectually encapsulate his emotions and his unbearable life: “When the boy go to the cage and take the girl / She will cry and cry with a dangerous to return a life with strange people.”
Much of the album follows a similar pattern. One can’t help but draw comparisons to Elliott Smith in the way Vinicius maintains his lo-fi melancholy. There are gems like “Little Kids” and “Luana (Mecanica Celeste Aplicada)” that dart across Society, providing some relief from the many tracks predominantly about depression and worthlessness (“Katie Don’t Be Depressed” and “Suicide”). Vinicius even covers one of his favorite artists Vitor Ramil in the very touching “Estrela, Estrela.”
A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed Is Inconceivably Mediocre… is a very moving portrait of a embattled young man who used music as his shield from the world. It’s heartbreaking to listen to Vinicius’ music knowing that he isn’t still alive, but there’s respite in knowing he recorded his soul as a lasting legacy.