Alexander Cropper sees David Balfe, aka For Those I Love, lay it on heavy in Manchester.
Great art comes from those who are willing to be vulnerable.
David Bafle’s For Those I Love transforms loss into hope by means of pain, poetry and electronic dance music, all centred around the death of a childhood friend. Over the course of nine songs Bafle lays his life and experiences bare.
Through passages of poetry balanced with electronic production an authentic image of inequality, gang violence, poverty and substance addiction is painted. Lyrics such as “body dumped on me road when I was six. Stabbed to death and left on bricks” and “it’s just numbers and stats until it’s your life” being examples of how powerfully raw Bafle’s poetry is.
The bond between friends and escapism is woven throughout the album in the form of voice notes and other spoken word poetry from friends. These audio clips document Bafle’s upbringing and the joy found in each other. A very interesting aspect to add to the album, music is a good marker for memories and transporting it’s listener to a specific time in their life.
For Those I Love has a cathartic aura surrounding the project, a feeling that it has saved Bafle’s life, literally. Also highlighting the extreme value of self expression. There is an element of fear in forgetting those left behind and times gone by, Bafle has talked about this previously and this begs to question if a constant reminder of grief can be simply a hinderance or can it actually be a comfort ? I don’t have the answer to this question but what I did see throughout the performance at The Deaf Institute was a little of both.
From the moment Bafle walked onto the flower ridden (the sort you’d see at a funeral) stage it was clear to see that he was going to shed blood sweat and tears.
Opening with an insight into his memories with the spacious I Have A Love it was clear to see that he goes to a place to perform, completely lost in his art and it’s mesmerising to examine. The album is played in order with simply a microphone and projector displaying footage of Bafle’s childhood days.
Throughout the set the audience are exposed to genuine moments of joy, sorrow, sadness and gratitude. Songs such as Birthday Party/ The Pain and You Stayed/ To Live carry great emotional weight, the emphasis here is to remember the love of your friends. Seeing members of the audience with arms around each other, dancing and at times crying was a very striking image. A man beaming with passion, love, sadness and embracing it all.
To see Bafle propel and somewhat exercise the pain and grief out of his lungs makes for a very intensely personal performance. It felt more like a group therapy session than a live gig at times. Bafle gave the performance everything he had and we consider ourselves privileged to be in the same room. Seeing it resonate with the audience in a joyous and comforting manner was very special to witness. It’s time to turn loss into hope and scream love from our lungs.
Photo Gallery by Alexander Cropper
To the love of my mates, forever and a day.