“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today we have a brilliant double bill of two fantastic virtuoso musicians who have both graced these pages in their own right but have now joined forces for an album called “The Quickening” on Thrill Jockey that despite the velocity of its title is magnificently meditative. Marisa Anderson has a seemingly effortless finger picking guitar style that is at one with nature, and I loved Anderson’s album “Cloud Corner” from 2018 so much that when I was asked to take some of my fav “songs for ewe” that year onto Johny Brown’s BAD PUNK show on Resonance FM, I played the title tune and Marisa’s choice of Nina Simone – a remarkable pick with it’s super-long intricate intro before Simone lets rip half way in. Jim White is a drummer whose rhythm is primal, insistent, sometimes wilfully off-kilter but never a beat wasted, and his brilliant work has taken in Venom P. Stinger and of course Australian cult heroes Dirty Three (along with Warren Ellis) not to mention key work with PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Bill Callahan.
White has most recently been playing as Xylorious White with Cretian singer/lute player George Xylorious as his foil. Jim has truly hit a rich vein with new counterpoint Marisa, with an instrumental journey that despite the lockdown can take you on an odyssey into your own mind without leaving your own four walls. Last time here, Jim chose a clip by Mary Margaret O’Hara that he just couldn’t stop watching, and with both of our artistes with more enforced time alone with their thoughts and music, with two great arbiters of taste I knew we’d end up as unlikely benefactors. With not one, but two (count ’em) “songs for ewe”, welcome back to Velvet Sheep two singular talents turned double trouble: Jim White and Marisa Anderson!
Check out “The Lucky” from “The Quickening” below:
“The Quickening” is an improvised work between two wayfaring strangers meets zig zag wanderers turned great friends. Idiosyncratic, meandering but always following the flow downstream, it combines extreme technical proficiency with sonic wanderlust. The idea budded when they were on the road together (Marisa solo and Jim with Xylorious White) and bore fruit when recording began at the Portland studio Type Foundry on Anderson’s old patch and continued into the joyously vintage kit of Mexico City’s erstwhile closed but lovingly restored Estudios Noviembres. This otherworldliness and alien environment of their new surroundings transported into the music by keeping them on their toes, and Marisa’s fingers onto the unfamiliarity of new nylon strings from a Ramos-Castillo guitar. The result was the spontaneity of tracks like the above one and the title track, with the shuffling bed of Jim’s brush strokes as a skittering heart beat beneath Marisa’s experimental, sometimes disonant yet always precisely chosen searchlight notes.
Not so much a journey into the heart of darkness, but one into the light at the end of the tunnel, where Kurtz’s horror, horror is turned into our wide eyed emancipation, I’m going to let “The Quickening” be a guide through the uncertainty of circa: now. But what songs have soundtracked the recent quarantine of our key players? Without further ado, here’s Marisa Anderson & Jim White’s (respective) “songs for ewe”…
“Chavela Vargas – “En Un Rincon de Mi Alma” (“In a Corner of My Soul”)
Everything sung by Chavela Vargas is pure gold in my opinion. There is no other voice that hits me where hers does. I love the sound of age and experience in this song, the repetition, the patient pacing, no urgency, no hurry, just sorrow and beauty.”
“Alice Coltrane – “Hare Krishna”:
This song does strong things at very specific times in its duration, and overall, but it’s not manipulative when it encapsulates so much, right?”
THANKS TO MARISA AND JIM AND ALSO TO MATT FIDDLER AT THRILL JOCKEY.
“THE QUICKENING” BY JIM WHITE AND MARISA ANDERSON is out on Thrill Jockey on May 15th and you can pre-order it on the link below:
In the meantime, please check out Marisa Anderson’s previous “song for ewe”…
…and Jim White’s previous choice.
Or, check out the link where I played “Cloud Corner” by Marisa Anderson on the BAD PUNK radio show, Resonance FM, the Christmas before last. Cheers!