So my duo project has a new album, just released today. It's available here: http://dollscometolife.bandcamp.com . I'll say a few words about it: About a year ago I took a risk and decided to release an album with a singer/songwriter, Michelle Cross from Chicago. This was the first Dolls album, a lot of people really liked it. A risk because I feared many of my regulars would be alienated by the song element. That may have happened to some extent, but I had a lot of fun doing it and enjoyed the challenge of "producing" (that word used loosely) and illustrating the songs with sound collage. I felt a bit like a book illustrator, creating vignettes that commented or elaborated on the chapters. So right away we decided to do another one, while the iron was hot. MC put out the idea of an album about "secret gardens". What does that mean? I had no idea. Gardens don't really do anything for me, I thought, but upon further reflection, yeah, they do: Charles Dodgson and Alice, the labyrinth scene in the Shining, the whole Victorian thing, haunted gardens, ghosted gardens, the meadow scene in Venus in Furs, I could run with it... So, the big different thing about this album was that all the songs are newly recorded, whereas the first album was more about giving life to old demos. MC had a list of about 10 or 12 song sketches that somehow had "garden" in them. We narrowed them down to a handful, some of which didn't make it on the album. The rest of the vocalized material was created as the result of "assigned improvisation" I'll call it, where I would give MC some drones or loops or textures and ask her to just sing over them and see what happened. The original drone/loop would then be stripped away and I would create a new background. Some of her returns were quite impressive, and those are the ones we used. "Across the Moor", and "The Nightingale and The Rose" were born from this process, as were the various vocal snippets in the sound collages. I was very liberal in arranging the pieces, often swapping out MC's piano for my own, or ambitiously attempting dramatic juxtapostions, like in "Wake Up, Wake Up" . Towards the end I distilled the material down to about 30 minutes of song and sound collage which I continued to shape over about 6 to 8 months, occasionally asking MC for harmonies, etc., to add. The last piece of the puzzle was the title. We had 30 minutes of "something happening in a garden". Somehow I thought of a character who perhaps all these dreams and visions are happening to. The groundskeeper's daughter, to me, is the daughter of a caretaker of the grounds of a wealthy estate, probably in the early part of the 20th or late 19th century. She lives on the grounds. She is isolated from the world and knows only the gardens; they become her dream world, the playground of her imagination, and the songs and sounds are like a diary. They include literary fragments (Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eilot), recollections of dreams, and the recounting of events that may or may not have happened. -JF
Video from the first world exhibition on Jean François Niceron at Iuav University of Venice, April 22 through May 31, 2013: "Jean François Niceron: Perspective, catoptrics & artificial magic", curated by Prof. Agostino De Rosa. Featuring music commissioned for the exhibition by Joe Frawley.
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