A blistery summer brings stormclouds of projects into the sun, the foremost of which being the new album by Elysian Fields this fall, Once Beautiful Twice Removed,
some kind of almost country music-like response to the eastern sounds of its predecessor, a full band with Tony Leone on drums and James Genus on bass around the core
of Jennifer Charles, Oren Bloedow, and Thomas Bartlett that is Elysian Fields. More to come on that one, and hopefully many
videos. We also have the Bohemian Flesh record coming out even sooner, at least digital, and then on vinyl in the fall around the time
the EF record drops on October 4.
We can't say much about the "who" of Bohemian Flesh but suffice to say those two records go together.
In Atlanta, Birdlikebats has been working
out of a new studio he built into the room of a house in which he's living, having moved on from the studio crammed into his Brooklyn
apartment, where he lived
for over a decade, playing as part of Bull Thieves and WORK. Friends reaches back to his hometown Galveston and
Houston, kicking off the album with the Houston-thick "Oh Whoa!"
Back in San Antonio, Texas, photographer David Salinas
dug up a 15 year-old tape of a musical venture he'd called Stenographer back in Houston in 2005 or so, handed it off to me and I played
bass on it and sequenced it into an album that will be its own digital release and a split cassette with Houston's
Rob Mozell, who goes by Makestapes.
There will be another Bull Thieves full length, a JGtheengineer album, Oren O'Blivion's album Darkenfloxx and plenty
of other things on the horizon in 2022. We'll check in, you check us out. — LSW
"Weaving flashes of his own voice into an oral history featuring over 130 of Screw’s friends, family, heroes, students, and more, Walker stitches together a full picture of the iconic DJ’s legacy." ― Mankaprr Conteh ― Rolling Stone
"In this sensational oral history, hip-hop historian Walker (Houston Rap Tapes) offers a riveting look at why 'DJ Screw is the stuff of Texas legend'...Though [DJ Screw's] life was cut short, Walker’s meticulous account underscores the enduring legacy of the rapper’s pioneering music and his awe-inspiring ability to capture 'the sound of the streets.' This engrossing work will fascinate fans." ― Publishers Weekly
"An ambitious love letter to one of Houston’s beloved mixtape kings...An insightful portrait sure to engage DJ Screw’s longtime fans and newcomers alike." ― Kirkus, Starred Review
"[A] fascinating oral history chronicling the life of DJ Screw...Walker’s years of research and personal expertise about Houston’s music scene will help cement Screw’s legacy as an innovator who still inspires." ― Library Journal
"The 'chopped and screwed' sound has become such a staple of hip-hop that most fans probably don’t even wonder where the slowed-down, stop-start sonic approach came from—and thus, the late DJ Screw, a.k.a. Houston native Robert Earl Davis Jr., is one of the truly unsung heroes of the genre...he's finally receiving his due in the form of DJ Screw: A Life in Slow Revolution." ― Jem Aswad ― Variety
"The sort of history from below that Walker pursues [in DJ Screw], organised around dialogues with Screw's family and friends, and framed by some light touch narration, seems appropriate. This is the story, after all, of a folk hero who rarely left his hometown...and who resided outside the circuits of official culture...As a written form, oral history suits the circumstantial nature of Screw's artistic development too...It's a form that also serves here to dispel some enduring myths, especially the oft repeated function of Screw's sound to a function of intoxication." ― Paul Rekret ― The Wire
Elysian Fields are up for a GRAMMY
Transience Of Life is up for Best Alternative Music Album, with first round voting going on until
November 5. Click here to listen to the album, and
check back for updates. From the album's liner notes:
Cáo Xuěqín’s 18th century novel, Dream of the Red Chamber, little known in the West, is a Chinese national epic, occupying a role in the literature of China roughly akin to that of Shakespeare in English. With its principal plot arc of two beautiful, sensitive and aristocratic young people whose love affair is doomed, the play it most resembles is Romeo and Juliet. Despite this resemblance, the fabric from which Dream of the Red Chamber is woven is shot through with many unfamiliar and unsettling threads. Punishment and power relations, sexuality and servitude, the supernatural and the insuperable decrees of fate speak of a milieu doubly alien. Looking in Cáo’s crystal we not only peer through the walls of strange and distant mansions, but backwards through the ages, to a China in the waning days of the Qing dynasty, still rapt in dreams of antiquity, as yet unruffled by the western winds of modernity and mercantilism soon to buffet its shores.
We were asked to set some of Cá o Xuěqín’s poems, in translation by Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang, to music. The unworldly mood and motifs of love, disillusionment, concern and grief fit perfectly with our own sensibility. The idea of the impermanence of all things has long been a central one for Elysian Fields; in the author of these ancient lines we found a kindred spirit. Another fellow traveler, cross-cultural storyteller Lu Chen, joined us to co-write a song to go alongside these poems. A final song was found surprisingly in the catalog of the late Warren Zevon, whose "Indifference Of Heaven" seemed almost to have sprung from the same pages.
Tickets for Evil Hour Evening Reading (10-24-21) are now on sale here.
The Brick Presents: Evil Hour Evening Reading “Isolation”
Joanna C. Valente, K Chiucarello, Boice-Terrel Allen, Jade Gomez
Hosted by Lance Scott Walker
Evil Hour Evening Reading is a series started in 2017 to get writers and artists in front of an audience, reading and storytelling. The title comes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1962 novel in which rumors going around a small Colombian village create unrest that compels the town’s mayor to declare martial law, during which he exacts revenge on his political enemies. All of us have lived in evil hour. For Evil Hour Evening Reading, writer Lance Scott Walker (Houston Rap Tapes, DJ Screw) hosts an bill of artists from different disciplines and diverse backgrounds all reading pieces that touch on a central theme, with an emphasis on performance and the energy of paths that might not have otherwise crossed. The theme for this Evil Hour is Isolation. Previous themes have been Escape, Translations, and Past Lives, with readers Kaiama L. Glover, Kim Barker, Liesl Schillinger, Anna Godberson, Magus Magnus, Shenequa Golding, Tod A, Quincy Flowers, and JB Roté. Produced by Ojet Studios.
Parthenope is Thomas Bartlett and Jennifer Charles.
They have a new 7-inch single coming out on Ojet December 4:
The video for "The Birds Scatter To The Wood" is out now, directed by Lance Scott Walker.
Two new releases are out today for Bandcamp Friday — a new Elysian Fields single and the debut album by Sunburn Palms:
Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow release another digital single with their second socially-distanced collaboration with Thomas Bartlett this year,
a standalone track that emerged from the artistic deprivation of not being able to make and experience music with other people.
"When We Used To" is a love letter to fellow musicians, music makers, creators, beautiful listeners, dancers, participants and witnesses.
This is the first ambient record by Lance Scott Walker (Bull Thieves, Port Vale, Jessica Six), who previously dipped into drone territory
back in 2000 with The White Papers but hasn't released a record
of any kind since 2012's Bonfire On West Beach. That tribute to his native Galveston was drenched in atmospherics, but Sunburn Palms is rooted in them —
keyboards, bass, industrial noise, field recordings, and contributions from a toy piano-playing cat.
Elysian Fields has a new video out from Transience Of Life, which will be released on September 4 in the US and Europe.
This one is for "An Outsider Undeserving Of Love," and it was directed by Jennifer Charles.
Also, the vinyl and CD for Transience Of Life have gone up for sale
on the EF bandcamp page.
These will ship in a few weeks — click on the photos below to order:
Elysian Fields — Transience Of Life (OJET-027 — September 4, 2020)
Cáo Xuêqín's 18th century novel, Dream of the Red Chamber, little known in the West, is a Chinese national epic,
occupying a role in the literature of China roughly akin to that of Shakespeare in English. Elysian Fields
set some of Cáo Xuêqín's poems, in translation by Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang, to music for Transience Of Life, with the idea of the impermanence
of all things long being a central theme for Elysian Fields. Another fellow traveler, cross-cultural storyteller Lu Chen, joined to co-write a song, and there is a
version of Warren Zevon's "Indifference Of Heaven." Thomas Bartlett played keyboards, and Sam Levin played drums, with appearances from Dana Lyn, Gamin Kang, and Ella Hunt.
Cover art by Michael Keum.
Elysian Fields — "Shelter In Place" (OJET-026 — April 9, 2020)
Some weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, Jennifer Charles, Oren Bloedow, and Thomas Bartlett wrote and
recorded this song
while socially distanced in Brooklyn, Woodstock, and Manhattan. The song's proceeds from April were donated to NYCOFI's COVID-19 fund and
Meals On Wheels America's COVID-19 Response Fund. "Shelter In Place" is dedicated to all healthcare workers, first responders, postal, transit,
sanitation, maintenance, grocery store, drug store, pet store, and all other essential workers who are on the front lines daily, risking exposure, to help the greater good.
In loving memory of Elysian Fields friend Hal Willner (1957–2020).
We promised something new on the horizon this fall and here we go:
On Halloween, Elysian Fields released the first 7-inch record of their career: "Song For A Nun" b/w "Ball Drive." The songs are exclusive and will not be released
on any future album. Buy the 7-inch! Do that here.
"Dispossessed" was directed by Jonathon Rosen in brooding black and white and you can see it here:
Elysian Fields are coming to the West Coast! They will play in Oakland on 5/14 and Los Angeles on 5/17, with tickets for the latter show already on sale. They'll also be appearing in Brooklyn at the end
of May. See the shows page for all the dates.
EF have also recently appeared on the NPR radio show Mountain Stage, where they performed live before a sold out crowd at the
Lydell B. Clay Theatre in Morgantown, West Virginia Listen to the podcast here
Elysian Fields have released their 11th record, a post-apocalyptic rock & roll joyride called Pink Air. The album touches on
themes as far-reaching as natural disasters and global
warming (the menacing, carnal "Storm Cellar"), life under a narcissist would-be dictator ("Philistine Jackknife"), white supremacy ("Knights Of The White Carnation"),
censorship and the erasure of history (the dystopian sci-fi of "Karen 25"), vulnerable families falling through the social safety net ("Household Gods"), and
meditations on time, friendship, loss, and mortality ("Time Capsule," "Star Sheen"). Pink Air was tracked in the mountains outside Woodstock NY and finished in the
Manhattan lair of studio wunderkind Thomas Bartlett (The National, Sufjan Stevens). You can order it on LP/CD/CS (yes, cassette!) or digital in the shop.
EF will be on tour in Europe to support Pink Air, including a warm-up date with The The in Brooklyn and a record release show at Nublu in
New York City before they leave. Check out the shows page and go see them in your town!
NEWS THAT ISN'T AS NEW
Ed Pastorini (he of 101 Crustaceans) will finally release a record under his own name,
a collection of vocal/piano songs called Strange Lures. Of the record's 15 tracks,
four were recorded live at Merkin Hall in Carnegie and debuted as part of John Schaefer's progressive New York City radio program New Sounds (episode #3087) on WNYC in 2010. Strange Lures will
be out early next year.
Pastorini is working on several other projects but this is the right time for this one. Put an old newspaper into the fireplace and let it spin.
Elysian Fields are hard at work on an album to be released in the first half of 2018. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and Oren (along with drummer Chris Vatalaro) recently contributed a track to the compilation
Vanity Of Vanities--A Tribute To Connie Converse, released
this month on John Zorn's Tzadik label. They are joined on the compilation by the likes of Karen O, Jeff Tweedy, Big Thief, Mike Patton, and Laurie Anderson, with everyone chipping in a unique take on
this lost songwriter's catalog. Elysian Fields work their magic on "Man In The Sky."
From the Tzadik site: Connie Converse was a remarkable composer who worked in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1974, depressed over her lack of recognition and success, she packed up her
belongings and drove off never to be heard of again. Little known in her lifetime, she is now viewed as a pioneer of the modern singer/songwriter genre.
This exciting compilation collects fifteen of her most unique and soulful songs performed by an all-star group of contemporary singer/songwriters. Featuring
an informative essay by musician and Converse scholar David Garland, Vanity of Vanities is a heartfelt tribute to one of the unsung heroes of contemporary songwriting.
Vanity Of Vanities can be purchased directly from the Tzadik site. You can also purchase the album from
Elysian Fields contributed a track to English post-punk band The The's Radio Cineola: Trilogy box set, which can be ordered here.
The duo recorded "Gravitate To Me" from The The's 1989 album Mind Bomb.
La Mar Enfortuna (Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow of Elysian Fields) are making a rare appearance this fall at The Jewish Museum in New York City.
The sephardic group will perform on Thursday, November 9 (7:30 – 9 pm) at Scheuer Auditorium in a concert presented by Bang On A Can.
Jennifer and Oren spent a fruitful summer finishing up the writing for their next record, and Elysian Fields go into the studio the end of August in upstate New York to begin recording for the new album!
In case you missed it, the opera Jennifer starred in last year won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for music.
The opera — Du Yun's 'Angel's Bone' — was called "an appallingly good work" by The New York Times.
Over the summer, Jennifer, along with the rest of the cast, recorded this original opera, which comes out October 7 on VIA Records.
Jennifer collaborated with her old Lovage running buddy Dan The Automator to make this breezy summer tune, which debuts as an Amazon Music Original today (6/23).
You can purchase or stream Nathaniel Merriweather's "Summer Lovin (feat. Jennifer Charles)" HERE and read about it in VIBE
Director Stephan Littger has finished production on a new Elysian Fields video for an older Elysian Fields song:
EF are back from the West Coast and will return to Brooklyn on June 10th for a night at The Owl [TICKETS]
The Pulitzer prize goes to Du Yun's Angel's Bone. Jennifer starred as the girl angel, in Du Yun's epic opera about two angels that fall to earth (a fable about human trafficking).
Jennifer is thrilled for Du Yun, and proud to have originated this unusual role.
EF will take a trip to the West Coast this spring, making their first appearance in San Francisco in 15 years at Hotel Utah on 4/26. Get [TICKETS]
Elysian Fields has a new video! "The Animals Know" is the third video from Ghosts Of No and the second from director/illustrator Steven Mertens (who also created the video for "Channeling" in 2014).
Jennifer guest spots on the debut album by Tredici Bacci, co-writing and singing on "Drowned." Tredici Bacci is the project of musician and composer Simon Hanes that channels his love of '60s/'70s soundtrack music,
tipping his hat especially to Italy and the likes of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. The group's new album, Amore Per Tutti,
is out via NNA Tapes, and you can hear it here.
EF has premiered a new video with French newspaper Libération. It is for the song "Higher Power" from Ghosts Of No and is directed by Lance Scott Walker. See their story
Elysian Fields will play in Brooklyn this weekend before another trip overseas:
10-09-2016 The Owl Music Parlor Brooklyn, NY
10-13-2016 Le Guingois Montluçon, France
10-14-2016 Usine à Gaz Nyon, Switzerland
10-15-2016 Les Abattoirs Bourgoin-Jallieu, France
10-16-2016 Akwaba Avignon, France
10-18-2016 La Chapelle Figeac, France
10-21-2016 Ebullition Bulle, Switzerland
10-22-2016 Sas Delemont, Switzerland
10-23-2016 La Crypte Lagorce, France
10-25-2016 Le Poste à Galène Marseille, France
10-26-2016 La Ferronnerie Pau, France
10-27-2016 Le Rocher De Palmer Bourdeaux, France
10-28-2016 Château Rouge Miramont-de-Guyenne, France
10-29-2016 Le VIP Saint-Nazaire, France
11-02-2016 TBA Paris, France
EF also made two radio appearances in Paris before getting out on the road:
Elysian Fields will have a new album out on 4/29 called Ghosts of No. It is their 10th record and will be accompanied by a video on its release date for the song "Shadow
Of The Living Light," shot and directed by Lance Scott Walker in the Mojave Desert. See the shows page for tour dates in New York, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Elysian Fields celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band with a retrospective concert series at the new Brooklyn music space The Owl Music Parlor, along with one show
at their home base of recent years, Le Poisson Rouge. Each of the concerts will feature an Elysian Fields album played in its entirety, and you can expect many of their
longstanding collaborators and cohorts to appear every night.
Individual tickets are on sale below, as well as a limited number of special series packages for all of the shows at The Owl.
Washington, DC area people can see Elysian Fields opening for Mercury Rev at The Rock & Roll Hotel on October 16 [TICKETS]
The video for "Channeling" was directed and illustrated by Steven Mertens:
Elysian Fields is in Europe and they have a new record out! The album is called
For House Cats And Sea Fans, and it is the ninth offering from the duo of Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow, who have been making music together now
since the early '90s. This album is a bit of a reflection of the no wave music on which they cut their teeth in New York City in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, and there are guest appearances on this record that reach into that world, with sax and vocal work from James Chance, longtime friend
and collaborator J.G. Thirlwell and a cover painting by John Lurie.
EF also made a radio appearance this week in Paris. They played two songs live in the studio:
Frank, You Ruined Me (10:21)
Next Year In Jerusalem (33:12)
Check the shows page for their dates in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.
They are there through the end of April, and you can find more information
on their new record right here.
Ed Pastorini is an underground legend in New York City, where his brilliant, off the map
compositions have drawn praise from writers and musicians alike in a career that began in the late 1980s. He is known
as a solo artist, making appearances around New York City both on piano and on guitar,
and 101 Crustaceans is his band.
Nearly a decade in the making, Train Bolt Roller
only six songs, but it is decidedly an album — not only because of the epic length of each of its tracks, but because of the full circle of birth to death that it
carries us through as listeners. It sinks in slow, and benefits from repeated listens.
Ed's songs are helmed here by
Indigo Street (guitar),
Oren Bloedow (bass) and
Ben Perowsky (drums).
"Ed Pastorini has been an almost mythical figure on the New York music scene – a reclusive genius whose songs are brilliant, and quietly
subversive. Full of unexpected chord changes and an emotive quality that creeps up on you, they seem to come from several traditions at once – or none at all.
The only problem with Ed's music has been that so few people know it. Now, finally, that will change."
— John Schaefer, NPR
"Your ears and your spirit have grown ten sizes. Favorite living songwriter. Period. Train Bolt Roller is a bruiser of a record, and a great
introduction to the brilliant treasure chest that is Ed's (mostly unrecorded!) song catalogue."
— Jennifer Charles, Elysian Fields
His music is bristling with odd dissonances, but also contains moments of consonance made all the more precious by the twisted, tortuous
paths by which they are arrived at.
The only comparisons I can think to make are to Captain Beefheart and to Slint, but to my ears, Pastorini is better than either of them.
— Thomas Bartlett for Salon.com
Listen to Ed perform live (solo piano) on WQXR's Cued Up program here