Penelope Trappes photos by Agnes Haus

“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’s guest is a London-based, Australian-born sonic adventurer who likes to keep it ethereal. On the back of two albums of doomy atmospheric exposing elegance, the second of which “Penelope Two” having been remixed and reworked by a stellar class of indie outliers including Cosey Fanni Tutti, Mogwai, Félicia Atkinson and Nik Colk Void  Penelope Trappes has released a new EP on Houndstooth Records intriguingly called the “Eel Drip” EP. It’s deeply personal, but despite it’s intimate epic rawness, it’s also undeniably accessible.

The video for “Eel Drip” has an innate stillness, reminiscent of the Bjork Chris Cunningham classic “All Is Full Of Love”, and yet you feel that like a precarious mirror on the wall it could shatter the peace at any moment. And it contains an actual eel, sinister yet prostate, curled yet immobile. Trappes’ art has definitely got us caught, and we’re pleased to welcome Penelope to Velvet Sheep!

Also on the “Eel Drip” EP is an almost alien interpretation of the 1970 Nico song “Afraid” whose content really chimed with Trappes who has said that “‘Afraid’ feels like a lullaby to herself and to her child for Self love, Self expression and Fearlessness. In an era where anxiety is so prevalent this message resonates deeply with me”, while Nico’s solo work as a whole has also struck a discordant chord. Given the inherent craziness of the world in which Penelope now finds herself a mother, she feels as if the words of “Afraid” are ones she could sing to herself and her daughter as a rallying cry to trust their feminine intuition in challenging a hostile and oft belligerent society.

Trappes spent 2016 writing and recording her first solo album “Penelope One” (there’s a theme!) mostly on the piano in East London. Replete with reverb-heavy soundscapes and dystopian musings, it was released via Optimo Music in 2017 on vinyl and as a photo book as befits the artistic quality of all her work. First single “Puppets” premiered by opening the Fendi SS17 runway fashion show as if to further reaffirm the transcendence of the music.

After signing to Houndstooth, “Penelope Two” followed in 2018, and while the themes expanding into more introspective but no less bleak areas of mortality, predestination and empathy, the James Blake-esque minimalism of the first album was built upon using synth drones, guitars, more reverberations and also field recordings, which very much feed into today’s choice of tune. So without further ado, this is Penelope’s “song for ewe”

“Like many, I often go off on listening tangents that take me to the corners of my musical mind. If I don’t write these down they get lost because the algorithms don’t bring me back to these videos… ugh.

So for Song for Ewe, I needed to meditate on where my body, mind and soul are being guided right now…
…to calm myself, I opened a new door and found someone I never knew until today Australian composer, performer, and naturalist, Ron Nagorcka.

Ron lives in the Northern Tasmanian forest region and has profound respect for the indigenous ancestors of “Country”. His ethos and his art resonate with me on a very personal level.

Because of these strange days of isolation, it has been impossible for me to visit my family, something that I had scheduled to do just before Lockdown. The longer I am held back, the more I am spiritually drawn back, with my desires to connect to the land growing deeper and deeper…

This magical piece takes my heart to the homeland. The composition is built around field recordings of birdsongs, and he experiments with the intonation and tuning of his instruments to reflect the myriad of tunings that each birdsong has. The end result is an aural wonder world where the sounds of mother earth become the source of mystical inspiration. Released only on tape in 1990 I have since reached out to Ron and he is kindly going to post me a USB of the track due to it’s large format and his inability to upload due to very slow internet in the middle of rural Tasmania. This makes the track even more special.”

Ron Nagorcka- Lemarrcootya (Grey Thrush)


“Eel Drip” EP is out now and available here.