REVIEW: Cal Folger Day – At The Roots of The Stars (Solo Edition) (2017)

I once met Cal Folger Day at a show in Asheville, NC. She was on tour with The Bonk from Ireland, herself an American living abroad for at least a couple of years as I remember. Another rainy Tuesday, which meant maybe 5 people showed up, much like the Tuesday show I had worked before (XL Fits, Osaka, Japan). I had just witnessed one of the best shows I had ever seen, and with the little tip money I did make that night I bought as much Cal Folger Day merch as I could.

Enter At The Roots of The Stars (Solo Edition); a download card made of thick bevel-cut mat board and printed on with rich pink and black inks. None of this is important to the musical qualities of the album itself, obviously. Consider it an appreciation for the artists who put a level of care into their download cards and, as of now, the only download card I have kept after use.

Cal Folger Day’s use of text-to-speech accompanying ‘vocals’ bring a level of subversiveness to At The Roots of The Stars. The integration of text-to-speech in music has been marred by meme-culture association and general reluctance in classically trained circles to integrate with new sounds or experiment. But Cal Folger Day commands a level of mastery over it. The text-to-speech ‘vocals’ add a dimension of emotional coldness and disdain which is repeatedly overcome by the warmth and humanity of Day’s dynamic singing.

“The text is a short play written in 1919 called ‘At The Roots of The Stars’ by Djuna Barnes. I have such an utterly unshakable confidence in the beauty of the language that the work every day of finding the most nimble, pleasant, natural melody for the words was terribly easy. As if I needed additional motivation, this feeling that I have, of being simply abashed that Djuna Barnes is today a relatively unknown name, lent a strong sense of justification and indeed obligation, less to her ghost than to myself and other readers/listeners,” wrote Cal Folger Day for An Áit Eile, a culture, society and ecology site based in Ireland.

At The Roots of The Stars (Solo Edition) is currently unavailable online. If ever given the chance to stream or get a copy of this album, take it. Until then you can check out Cal Folger Day’s site here or their Bandcamp where other beautiful works of theirs are available.

For fans of: Karen Dalton, Vashti Bunyan, Sibylle Baier

Like Cal Folger Day? Give these a listen: Myles Manley, András Cséfalvay, Concette Abbate

REVIEW: Myles Manley – AAA (2020)

Myles Manley’s 2020 EP release AAA is what Of Montreal and other indie bands of the late-naughts would have tried to be if they had carried higher artistic aspirations. A lush yet intimate recording, AAA is an intricate tapestry of emotion.

Myles Manley’s work is a great example of metamodernist ‘new sincerity’ within music. Humor briefly flourishes before being struck back down by underlying pain, all made very real by a high-degree of sonic intimacy. AAA is by no means a record that will be playing over the grandstands of your sporting locale. No, this one is best heard in your room, at night, speaker in reach. Opening track I Took On America And Won has been through my headphones a couple dozen times while wandering the local graveyards, and if you’re given the chance to do so I would highly recommend it.

Sometimes it can be difficult to understand if the lyrics should be interpreted in an abstract, surreal manner, or painfully direct and honest. While maybe not intended, this does allow for AAA to burn slowly with layered re-listening and reinterpretation. What is certain is that AAA is a triumph of the extended-play format, and ought to make it into your listening rotation should you find yourself alone anytime in the near future.

For fans of: Why?, The Angst, Sibylle Baier

Like Myles Manley? Give these a listen: Cal Folger Day, Concetta Abbate, András Cséfalvay

REVIEW: Concetta Abbate – Behind The Red Door (2016)

Opening with 30 seconds of unintelligible rumbling, it would be easy to believe you were listening to the sounds of the ocean; a strange experience for a live album.

Recorded live at Spectrum on April 30th of 2016, Behind The Red Door casts the listener forever in a sea of strange melancholia. The sounds of papers shuffling, room tone, and occasional rustling may, on paper, seem like the unfortunate consequences of recording live, but in the case of Behind The Red Door, every sound is perfectly in place. Violins, viola and cello are focal nearly throughout, though are briefly departed midway through for tracks Counting 1 & 2 before being reunited with the listener soon after. Concetta Abbate’s ability to to transition complete instrument substitutions with ease serves the album well, and keeps the listener in a state of wonderment.

The ebb and flow of the sweet and the eerie guide the listener with comforting force through the occasional vignette of near-gleeful tracks such as Dust, which retires itself to the melancholy from which it came.

Give yourself the gift of intimate listening, and take time to sit down to Concetta Abbate’s Behind The Red Door.

For fans of: Why?, Richard Hawley, Joanna Newsom

Like Concetta Abbate? Give these a listen: Cal Folger Day, Myles Manley, András Cséfalvay

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