A bleak Netflix series inspires a listen to Bekah Fly’s “The Earth Experiment”
As one does, I found myself scrolling through Netflix one evening. Though much of my time these days is spent on music discovery and promotion, I have a tendency to pull up something hearkening at my nostalgia. I grew up on TV docuseries like Trauma: Life in the ER, and I have two uncles that are doctors, so medicine has been somewhat of a peripheral interest in my life. Not so peripheral has been my interest in the curious, weird and morbid in recent years.
So, a watch of the Netflix series Afflicted, which followed the stories (arguably edited to suit a “good for TV” narrative that deviated from reality) of several folks with unusual and debilitating chronic illnesses. Exploration of this could be a blog post in and of itself. I’ll say that one of the sufferers depicted was an individual named Bekah, who spends (spent?) time in the desert as an extreme albeit necessary step to manage mold sensitivity.
Bekah’s story and others pulled me in. I wanted to know what happened to them following the show. I wanted to know what Netflix got wrong. I wanted to know them more as people. Bekah in particular stood out to me as a genuine individual. I identify with her offbeat tendencies, in spite of my conservative appearance and habits.
It turns out Bekah is a songwriter. And not just a songwriter but one that composes a lovely brand of experimental folk. I too live with a chronic condition: lifelong hearing loss. As I’ve alluded to in the past, for this reason I believe I respond more to the feeling (emotional and physical) of music than of lyrics. Dark folk in particular resonates with me. It isn’t something I pursue on a regular basis, but when I set aside time it is cathartic.
Bekah Fly’s The Earth Experiment is cathartic.
This EP, at the time of the show’s airing, was only on bandcamp, with one song on streaming services. This is something where I am responding to evolving feelings and tones as the release goes on, rather than words. The themes are fairly universal and relatable, but that’s not what moves me here. I stumbled onto a subreddit recently titled r/thatnightfeeling, and EP closer “Flickr” would seem to fit on. This mixes folk, post-rock, and glitchy electronic music—like a Jon Hopkins remix of Mount Eerie after hanging out with Jonsi.
“Backpocket” warbles in a way that seems to communicate a mood somewhere between desperation and resignation. “Kali,” the song that introduced me to Bekah Fly the musician, has a minimalist feel that layers vocals on top of each other, meandering back and forth as if Bekah herself were walking back and forth behind me, sing-whispering. The resulting effect is eerie and disquieting. Yet the sonic aftertaste, as it were, is one counterintuitively of peace. Peace feels like a weird thing to result from an otherworldly production that mimics Bekah fading in and out on a broken radio. “Redemption Song” carries on a mood of nighttime settling on to the world. It’s a feeling similar to what I might feel if I sat on a back patio in a neighborhood and watched the darkness descend on an adjacent wooded area as I sit alone with my thoughts.
The whole EP is like this.
It’s been a year since I’ve watched Afflicted. I found it so fascinating, yet I can’t bring myself to watch it again after the universally scathing response by the subjects of the show—to do so would seem perverse in a way.
I hope Bekah Fly is doing okay. I’ll be waiting for the next EP. I appreciate that much of this was likely recorded in and inspired by the remote desert living, but I hope better circumstances inspire the next release.