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May 26th, 2010

Lower Dens 7"

The first single from Jana Hunter’s Lower Dens is out today! ‘I Get Nervous’ b/w ‘Johnssong’  is now available as a 7″ from Gnomonsong. You can pick up a copy here or at your local record store. 

Their forthcoming full-length, Twin-Hand Movement, should see release sometime later in the summer.

February 20th, 2009

Rio en Medio: The Naturalismo Interview

I drove from Boston to Brooklyn in the Spring or Summer of 2007 to see Vetiver play with Vashti Bunyan at Southpaw. There was no real idea of where we would stay or, for that matter, how to get to the venue. Afterthoughts. This was going to be a great show, well worth the mapless adventure. We didn’t know that Danielle would be opening the night, but I was happy to see her name when we arrived. The impact of unexpected joy is always deep. It was a good night.

Rio en Medio has just released Frontier, the followup to her 2007 debut The Bride of Dynamite. She’s also traveling the country with Brightblack Morning Light as we speak, so don’t miss her if she stops in your world.


NATURALISMO: Much time has passed since the making of your debut, Bride of Dynamite. Like us all, the person you are today is not the person you were then. What paths has your life taken since your first record, and how have those directions, choices, and experiences manifested themselves on your new record, Frontier?

RIO EN MEDIO: I moved to New Mexico in Winter 07 and started right away to write the songs for Frontier. I spent a year without phone or internet, living in a tiny rural village in a small room with windows all around. In the dead of winter I would run out of food and firewood. I was scared of intruders and scared of myself. I never regretted leaving New York though. Moving (back) to New Mexico sent an immediate, direct message to my heart that put it front and center. Letting go of many assumptions of what life should look like and how it should be processed helped reveal to me many mysteries and types of magic inaccessible to me the midst of city living. Mixing heart landscape with imaginary worlds and natural messages of the land stimulated the narratives and soundscapes in Frontier.

N: Your songs seem rooted in folk; they often evoke the pastoral, the natural, the verdant, the organic. Yet, especially on Frontier, there is an embrace of the artificial. Do you believe that digital technology is the natural evolution of the “folk music” idiom (or consciousness in general)? Is this the Frontier, so to speak?

REM: Music is most powerful to me when it contains elements in violence and harmony, when there is tension in the music reflecting the struggle around us. I find wild beauty, spirituality and liberation in synthesizers and drum machines, offset with the delicate human and string voices, framing the carefully articulated ukulele and vocal parts with more chaotic patterns. So I’m singing about something that’s happening in the music environment the way we sing about what’s happening in our world environment. Yes, as a metaphor to feel before reflecting on.

N: In my opinion, our generation’s greatest identity struggle stems from the opposition of nostalgia for what is “natural” with an increasingly symbiotic relationship with technology. How do you balance these seemingly conflicting elements in your own life?

REM: I would say instead that our generation’s greatest identity struggle is with our individual authority, our right to free thought, to decide for ourselves what we believe. It is surprising in this so-called free society how few people take advantage of their cosmic right to be alive and make choices. To me there is no conflict, only choice. Music seems to be one of the best ways to get that idea across, to work that muscle. Go home and make a song and make it yours. Don’t give me or anyone else or some institution your soul or wrongly assume that you are free of the responsibility to make your own light apparent.

N: You have created art in many mediums and in many different styles during your life. What about music appeals to your personal sensibilities, and how has music changed your approach to other forms of creation?

REM: I am interested in the intellectual message that is felt for its obvious trueness, that changes you as it awaken its friend in your heart. Music rocks the gut and contains sexual magic which is the most creative.

N: What contemporary artists have you been enjoying recently?

REM: Terry Riley, the Dirty Projectors.

N: Most importantly, do you prefer shwarmas or samosas?

REM: Samosas are tasty but they are so hard in their little shells, it’s a bit daunting to bite in, know what i mean?  I like falafels best.

[ download ] Frontier

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February 19th, 2009

Kevin Barker You and Me

Otto and Kevin

(c) Alissa Anderson

Kevin Barker‘s new album You and Me will be out later this year via Gnomonsong on CD and LP. Kevin previously released records under the name Currituck Co., but he has also served as a member of Vetiver, Antony & The Johnsons, and Joanna Newsom’s Ys Street Band (to name just a few).

This time around he is joined by Eric Johnson on lap steel, Joanna Newsom on piano, Jonathan Wilson on bass, Pat Sansone on keyboards, and Otto Hauser on drums. Thom Monahan did the recording, and the album features string arrangments by Ryan Francesconi. To hear some tracks head over here.


November 4th, 2008

Vetiver- More Of The Past

Originally intended as a precursor to their acclaimed recent album, Thing of the Past, Vetiver‘s companion EP is finally released by Gnomonsong as the five-song More of the Past CD as well as a limited-edition 7-inch single, “Hey Doll Baby” b/w “Miles Apart.”

Presented here are six more songs that inspired Andy Cabic and friends, and once again, most listeners will be challenged to have ever heard the originals. These versions all possess the rich Vetiver treatment that makes the special songs the band’s own.

“See You Tonight” opens the EP with a flourish, presenting Vetiver in a new shade of the past as they tackle yet another impossibly obscure treasure of a tune, this time by the enigmatically named ensemble, The Wizards. “Hey Doll Baby” follows and is already an established concert favorite, beloved by Vetiver’s burgeoning fan base as well as being the A-side of the 7-inch single. “Before the Sun Goes Down” is Vetiver going country rock with an old traditional classic. The EP closes with Vetiver’s skillful redux of one of Grin’s (Nils Lofgren’s early ’70s band) finest moments, “Just to Have You,” and Gordon Bok’s lovely “Hills of Isle Au Haut,” originally covered by former Jerry Garcia cohort and folk music mainstay Jody Stecher.

The B-side of the 7-inch, “Miles Apart,” by AR Kane (the same duo who wrote “Pump Up the Volume”), provides a strong taste of Cabic’s love of ’80s UK alternative pop.

You can pick up a copy here.

[download] Miles Apart

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June 18th, 2008

Rio en Medio explores new Frontier

I first saw Rio en Medio perform live in the early Spring of 2007, where she was opening for Vetiver at Southpaw in Brooklyn. Not only had I never heard her perform live, I had never heard any of her music, period. The night was frigid. Inside, warm and woozy, I stood amongst Brooklyn’s hipster elite waiting to hear Danielle Stech-Homsy. As she and her band took the stage and performed their first musical mosaic, I was equally frozen as I had been in the will-call line outside the door. My shoes were glued to the floor, my jaw somewhere alongside them. My thoughts leaped in all directions but were instantly cradled and comforted by the ethereal atmospherics of a plaintive ukulele.

Well, time has passed and the world has certainly changed. With her debut LP The Bride of Dynamite behind her, Rio en Medio just announced the title of her new album and has released a new song for us to enjoy! Frontier will be released by Manimal Vinyl Records this September…but until then, enjoy “Fall Up.”

[download] “Fall Up” from Frontier


May 15th, 2008

Rio En Medio unplugged

The fine folks over at sat down with the always enigmatic Rio En Medio and recorded two beautiful unplugged performances of “My Star” and “Kill the Messenger.” Its always fascinating to hear musicians stripped down to the core of just them and their instrument. Danielle’s simple, plucked baritone ukulele and delicate voice create a lilting yet unsettling dynamic, made even more so here with the removal of the sonic elements found on record.

[link to videos]

May 5th, 2008

rio en medio catches saturday night fever, tours europe

In the seventh decade of the twentieth century, a cultural phenomenon swept this great country – nay, the world – faster than the common cold in a subway car full of sneezers. No, I’m not referring to wide lapels or polyester pants. I’m referring to disco. But before you scoff or tilt your shaggy-haired heads back in disgust, shall we revisit the antiquated sounds of disco’s greatest golden hits through the lens of one today’s most enchanting performers? Yes, we shall.

The Seven Inch Project has just released a limited edition vinyl pressing of two classic disco covers from Gnomonsong’s own Rio En Medio, aka Danielle Stech-Homsy. From their site:

“The inspiration for these disco covers came to Danielle as she was promenading through the local West Indian grocery store in Flatbush, Brooklyn. It was late and Danielle was exhausted from work. As her dazed eyes drifted over bruised plantains she suddenly became aware of a song that was playing on the radio. For days the melody filled Danielle’s head and obsessed her imagination. She had only caught a few words but managed to dig it up on the Internet…”Let this groove get you to move…It’s alright…alright…a-a-al-right.” Weeks later Danielle found herself in a Montreal hotel tapping the beat out on the desk in her room, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to alert the staff to her nefarious recording activity. The song, one could say, had bewitched her. It had awakened a certain hitherto obscured spirit inside her that, once unleashed, had the power to change her, which it did, causing Danielle to abandon her current life in pursuit of a more dangerous personal freedom and aliveness that she had never known. That’s when she understood DISCO – what must have moved so many people, as silly as it now seems to many of us – the magical hold it had on being Alive, struggling against the odds, and for no reason other than to feel something moving in your body and soul…

[download] “Let’s Groove” (Original by Earth, Wind, and Fire)

[buy the vinyl]

Click below for current European tour dates with CocoRosie!

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