Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Valerie Project...

Hold onto your shrooms and brace yourself for some Psychedelic, experimental, gothic-folk.
Yes, gone are the days of nu-rave & indie pop (Fuck off Klaxons and Kate Nash already!)
There's a new player in town and it will suck you into it's fairytale-esque / Brothers Grimm sound.
May I present to you, The Valerie Project. An idea so terrifically esoteric, it's an absolute joy that it was conceived in the 21st century.

What is The Valerie Project I hear you yell.
Settle down for a history lesson & I shall fill you in.

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders was a novel written in 1935 by surrealist Czech writer Vítězslav Nezval.
Vítězslav is still regarded as one of the most prolific Czech writers to this day (even after his death in 1958).
Within the novel, Nezval explored oblique gothic themes and settings (think F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu for example).
By Nezval's own admission, the depth of the tale is not in story itself, but in the dark evocations caused by the mise en scene. It is a tale of folklore, mystery and allegory that unfolds as much in the mind as on the page.

In 1970, the novel was made into a feature film by Czech director Jaromil Jireš.
Jaromil didn't walk down the dangerous path of changing many of the novel's themes when he directed the film.
If there was ever a time to use a quote, this is it:
"Director Jaromil Jires was unerringly faithful to Nezval's myopic approach, lingering on expressions, oblique gestures, the subtle nuances of actor performance and the rich, complex set design of Ester Krumbachova. Lubos Fiser's original score is so perfectly woven throughout the action it becomes the atmosphere within which Jires' actors exist. While a 35mm transfer of the film still eludes the DVD market, one can bask in the splendor of Fiser's (and composer Jan Klusak's electronic contributions) masterwork via the newly re-issued soundtrack on Finders Keepers/ B-Music."

This now takes us to The Project...
The Project Series started with a simple concept; that of recontextualising the filmic meaning and impact of a particular work through the substitution of a newly composed soundtrack. The new soundtrack is meant to be performed live to a sound film, with the original soundtrack turned off or the original music removed. This element is unique in that most live film soundtracks are perfromed to silent era films.
The genesis of the project came more out of a complete infatuation with Jaromil Jires' 1970 dream poem than from any intellectual conceit. The film's relevence to a new generation of folk musicians made it an obvious choice also.

The talented women & men who created this brilliant idea:
Jim Ayre (Fern Knight / Rake) on Percusssion.
Tara Burke (fursaxa) on Vox.
Charles Cohenon Electronics.
Helena Espvall-Santoleri (espers) on Cello & Vox.
Mary Lattimore on Concert Harp.
Brooke Sietinsons (espers) on Acoustic Guitar, Omnichord, Jew's Harp, Autoharp & Space Echo.
Jesse Sparhawk: (Fern Knight / Jesse Sparhawk) Electric Bass.
Greg Weeks (espers / Greg Weeks): Electric Guitar, Rhodes, Recorder, Arp Odyssey, Univox, Mini-Korg & Metallaphon
Jessica Weekson Flute & Rhodes.
Margaret Wienk (Fern Knight) on Cello, Vox & Harmonium.

The incredible instrumental-compostion has 30 tracks on it.
Each one more beautiful than the last.

The myspace profile where you can listen to some of the tracks is here...

The 4 following MP3s are available for download.
They are taken from the very first performance of the Valerie Project at the International House, Philly, PA on Sept 18, 2006.

Intro - Right-click me...
Fire Fountian - Right-click me...
Grandmother's Theme - Right-click me...
The Feast - Right-click me...


Anonymous said...

Eh, what the fuck.
This sounds so crazy. Why have I not heard about this before?
Damn, that's some good posting.

Pedro said...

It's out at the end of the month.
Shockingly good.
The novel has recently been translated into English - try get your hands on it.

jack said...

It's 9.25 am and I am sitting here reading this post.

What has happened in my life that would lead me to this horrible point and state of mind?!

Only joking P - you've got yourself a diverse taste in music, i'll give you that buddy. From Interpol to Glassjaw to Tokyo Police Club to this.

Pedro said...

It's a cracking record.
30 sublime tracks.

I've seen Bright Black Morning Light & Espers live, and I had a miserable time at both if I'm being honest. A bit too creepy and trippy for me - but The Valerie Project have got musical taste buds in a bit of a mess.

jack said...

Matador did some label night here about a year ago. I saw BBML and thought they were great.

I was stoned at the time & it's perfect music to listen to when you're chilled out.

Never saw Espers but I like their 2 albums. That whole "freak-folk" thing isn't as lame as it sounds.

Pedro said...

I don't really understand "freak folk" to be honest?
Is it just folk people who are unusual who are thrown into the mix?
Like Devendra, Cocorosie & Joanna and stuff?

I like some of Dev's songs but not all of them.
However, I have a thing for Joanna Newsom. She is incredible.

Anonymous said...

I would't think Coco Rosie are Freak Folk.

It's just another silly term really, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Listen up Pesto. The Kings of Leon rock. You have some nerve acting like you know whats what and then suggesting Incubus for an 'educational' mixed tape. Shame.

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