- (Edie of Dig This Real Magazine)
Darkness and mental illness have always found a warm home in music, poetry and the stage. To say that madness breeds brilliance is an understatement when it comes to the work of acclaimed musician and poet Joseph A. Peragine. Peragine is a songwriter, composer, poet and documentary film maker, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Peragine has channeled his illness into two masterpiece cds; The Acoustic Diaries and Self-Medication… Poems of Alienation both, in which he performs like his life depends on it. It’s because his life does depend on it. Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, Peragine started writing, singing and playing many instruments at the age of 14. Soon, the majority of these compositions would depict his personal struggles with schizophrenia, which started taking up residency in his brain around the age of 15. This was the age he started to have episodes of intense paranoia, while displaying harmful behaviors not excluding an attempted suicide by blindly driving his car over 100 miles per hour in a complete free fall. Quiet disturbing is what makes up the death muse feeding Peragine his inspiration – and not the kind of experiences that most of us went through with the usual teen-age-puberty-growing up-phase.
The Acoustic Diaries is a collection of songs Peragine had written over an 8 year period while learning to cope and deal with schizophrenia. Calling it a, “short acoustic summary of my life,” the 17 tracks showcase songs flavored with sensitivity, some with flamenco overtones and the ever present urgency based around “the end.” Peragine’s singing voice is soft and a bit timid but most of the time, he is being swallowed up by the frantic strumming of his guitar. He paints a picture, one of himself, throwing out a net, hoping to catch something worth holding onto. “Reality is a difficult thing to accept after waking up from the nightmare of schizophrenia,” states Peragine as he opens up this collection of work. Despite that, The Acoustic Diaries, is an autobiographical and musical journey, the compositions are easy going allowing the listener to forget what is being undone here. And it reeks of hope. The best kind – the kind that can make critics cry while listening along. Stalk, here you only find Peragine, his voice and acoustic guitar.
The second release, Self-Medication…Poems of Alienation, is the complete opposite in delivery. A spoken-word, “instrumental album,” paints the terrible, lonely, isolation one goes through with mental illness or manic depression. Peragine speaks in tones similar to Henry Rollins and at the speed of a runaway train. He breaks up with his shallow breathing yet doesn’t miss a beat. Every word he speaks holds merit. It’s unfortunate that Peragine had to experience what he has to get there but no one said true and good art was painless. The cd artwork displays a shirtless Peragine, who is cut with six-pack abs and inked up and down his arm. Thing is, he is deliberately burning his fist over an open stove flame. Look into his face and it all seems normal. Pieces on this release do not always explain schizophrenia. Try the song, “Slut Party,” where Peragine expertly sums up the manipulative play women think they perform effortlessly while trying to control their prey. Or “The Shallow Chronicles,” where Peragine carries on a conversation with, “funny female.” By the end of the piece, the strange sensation of, “I know someone like that,” washes over the listener. And it’s downright sad. Because it’s in this composition that we learn that sex and intimacy is only a weapon to some. One that is eventually turned on and used to waste it’s owner.
Peragine’s biography is now available in video format which can be viewed on his Electronic Press Kit or website. In the video, Joseph states, “This is me. I am turning my life around and in a lot of ways I’m not so different from you.” No longer is he cutting or physically hurting himself. Positively and more importantly, Peragine has found a peaceful and healthy plan for himself. One of these plans is expressing himself through word, song and performance.
For further information, or for review copies of Joseph A. Peragine’s music or writing, please contact Joseph A. Peragine directly at email@example.com or contact publicist Sylvie M. Harris at Alpha Music Group: 212-330-8219 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.josephaperagine.com .