Monday things? The Classical have posted up a new single ahead of their new album release, sounds like a good left-field place to start the week, delicious colour and construction of a slightyl different nature…
A year after their move to San Francisco, The Classical quietly self-released Diptych on Bandcamp. One month later, the album was being lauded as one of the Bay Area’s best releases of 2014. It was a strong start for The Classical, currently a duo comprised of singer-songwriter Juliet E. Gordon and free jazz drummer Britt Ciampa.
This summer, the Alameda, CA label Time Sensitive Materials (sub. of Time Released Sound) will give a well-deserved physical re-release to this formidable collection of songs. The label has released 50 electronic/ambient/neo-classical/”beatless” records in their four-year career. They offer a limited edition “deluxe” release: a distinctive handmade, painstakingly intricate, each-piece-unique CD package. The Classical will be the first release that will open up the field to more traditionally ‘song-y’—but still experimental—music.
Gordon describes herself as a “disavowed stage actor,” having abandoned that career path when, in her eyes, it lost its luster. But her dramatic training undeniably colors the content of The Classical: “Diptych,” writes critic Sam Lefebvre, “is full of play, pretend, and severity, with Gordon inhabiting diverse characters such as sycophant, deviant, and spy.”
Indeed, James Bond theme music comes readily to mind while listening to Diptych—“brassy, but slick” writes Lefebvre—but so does swampy post-punk and nightmarish horror soundscape. It’s anything but tame, yet it manages to unite highbrow and lowbrow sensibilities to delicious and delirious effect. In “Sicily: Catacombs,” for instance, Gordon describes a chance visit to the famous open burial catacombs of Palermo, Sicily. Pausing to gaze upon a wall reserved for deceased young virgins, she sings, “Strung up by their necks in rotten dresses/Wheezing down at their weeping fathers/Masturbating, gargling salt water…”
Elsewhere, she croons of bestiality, and confesses to revenge fantasies with outright glee. It all unfolds over a dramatic palette of souped-up pianos, synthesized strings, and the evocative punctuation of Ciampa’s drumming. The duo recorded Diptych themselves, but passed the task of mixing on to Jay Pellicci (Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney), who made sure the songs hit with their full weight.