Augmented Reality

The light and shade of life journey, offering hope and healing.
The problem with mental health problems is we see everything as a problem.

What if we asked ourselves:

‘where does this idea come from?’ and ‘why do I believe it?’

The idea that mental illness, or more accurately - mental disorder, is a ‘health problem’ is a relatively new and essentially European story.

In the mid-17th century, Europeans began to institutionalise their mad people. Rationality was the new reality and we were seen as being irrational or ‘without reason’. As society became orderly we were seen as ‘disordered’. We became ‘ill’ when doctors took advantage of our collective confinement and turned our interesting relationship with reality into a symptom of a medical condition. This conveniently endorsed our separation from others.

The story of our disorder and illness continues to echo through the centuries. It’s in the names we call each other on the school playground, in the news reports in TV and papers, in the movies we watch, and in our conversations.
We’ve made the human experience of irrationality or madness the worst thing that can happen. And if it does, we’re taught to see it as a health problem to be fixed, an illness we should want to ideally cure or at least manage.

What if we could create a different story? Let’s start seeing madness as legitimately human rather than ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’.

The same science that called our experiences ‘abnormal’ hundreds of years ago is now discovering that half of us will have these experiences in our life.

Madness is the new normal.

And perhaps as we start seeing madness as a normal we can begin telling a more balanced story. One that allows for the challenges and difficulties of irrationality to sit alongside the positives - a story of enhanced sensitivity, epiphanic insights, intuitive creativity, profound personal relationships and an essential and valued perspective on humanity.

Madness is the new reality. A reality enhanced by madness. An augmented reality.

Reviews

Tracey Cannon | Mental Health Activist

As someone who has at some stages in my life considered myself to be ‘mad’, I somehow made it through the first listen of Gareth’s new album without tears.

But by the second I was away! Because the album is not only ‘my story’ but it is also ‘our story’.

It traverses a landscape which takes me from the world of the chain-smoking psychiatric patient to the spiritual breakthrough that would be my eventual reality. From my life when it was ruff and tuff and I couldn’t get out of bed on Monday morning to feeling the awesome power of life and reaching the edge of the universe.

There is much that people with experiences of madness will recognise in Gareth’s songs and it wears its madness with pride.However, it's not just a ‘mad pride’ album because these are songs about the human condition.

They give us permission to experience, treasure and celebrate the fullness of our experience with a funny, gentle, kind acceptance that is Gareth’s sharing of his world of joy and his gift to us.

Johnny Matteson | The Mad Musician

Gareth is a singer-songwriter who puts his heart where his mouth is.

Setting the experience of mental illness to music is not a common theme for art.

However in this case Augmented Reality sets out to describe very serious issues in a way most people can understand. Listening to this album takes you on a journey of hard times mainly through a resolution of hope. The album sets out to challenge some of the stigma and discrimination towards mental illness. When I was not feeling well, it really spoke to me, I listened to it over and over again and it really helped.

Gareth makes a very strong statement that after experiencing acute mental illness you can survive the journey and there is a better, more fulfilled life on the other side.

Perhaps a richer life with a deeper understanding of humanity.

Augmented Reality teaches and enlightens, while entertaining listeners and deserves a wider audience.

Track by Track with Johnny Matteson

1. The opening statement ‘we should wear our madness with some pride’ sets the tone for the album.

2. The following track ‘Don’t Talk To Me’ has a melodic introduction and ends with a frantic message of needing acceptance – of ones self and acceptance by society.

3. A catchy organ intro begins the next song called ‘Live The Life You Love’, which has the common thread of hope that is weaved throughout the album.

4. Psychiatric Blues’ is a humoristic song that appears to be light hearted but indicates the serious issues and problems that lurk beneath the surface of treatment in a psychiatric ward.

5. The comedic ‘Hey Diddly Dee’ is positive and upbeat with seemingly nonsense lyrics. But if you listen closely it continues the uplifting approach, stating that “this song is for anybody who has been told they’re no good and believed it to be true’. This includes just about everybody at one time or another.

6. When feeling the funky music of ‘Power Of Life’, listen closely to the lyrics about the exhilaration and the experience of being manic!

7. ‘Hold On’ is what you do when there is no hope. It you are feeling depressed or a bit down about life, ‘Hold On’ is the perfect track to listen to.

8. ‘Be Who You Are’ picks up the pace of the album with a strong message to ‘be who you are’ – we all want to be superstars!

9. After this frantic distorted rock, the album moves moods back to the acoustic feel of ‘Stand Still, which has a more bouncy yet peaceful and meditative composition.

10. The piano piece ‘Love Of Life’ brings the album to a quieter moment. This melancholic song, with piano and vocal has great dynamics and demonstrates the calibre of musicianship on this album.

11. “Madness (With Some Pride) returns to the opening theme of the album and the strong closing statement reflects all the elements, moving from the melancholic to the joyful, the angry and most of all . . . the crazy!!

PS stick around for a beautiful bonus track . . .

Enjoy!
You can also find Gareth's music on Spotify / Bandcamp / iTunes / Google Play and Amazon.