Ice – A Novel Soundtrack

Ice by Anna Kavan | Waterstones

I made an album last year and I have finally released it on Bandcamp. I had the idea of creating soundtracks for novels I love, in particular those with a strong atmosphere. The pieces here are mostly drones and layers with crackles and ice noises – one or two have beats.

Anna Kavan published Ice in 1967 and it has to be one of the strangest books I’ve read. It explores themes of obsession, misogyny, environmental collapse, patriarchal fascism and identity confusion – oh and it has a lot of references to Indris – the vanishing lemurs.

If that makes it sound dark and unpleasant – it is – but it also exquisitely beautiful and wonderfully mad – something like Kafka filtered through Ballard and Vonnegut (but completely original).

Kavan is a fascinating figure and is well worth reading and long overdue the recognition and literary status that her work deserves.

Find out more about Kavan here.

No.36 – Cherushii

Cherushii – Acrylic and paper on Chestnut Panel

I wanted this painting to look as though it might have washed ashore on a Pacific Coast beach. Re-reading Winter Tides by James Blaylock may be influencing me. Cherushii was a wonder – I wish I could have seen her perform and her death was a terrible loss to the world and to music.

Chelsea Faith Dolan, better known by her stage name Cherushii (September 14, 1983 – December 2, 2016), was an American electronic music producer, DJ, live performer, and radio host based in San Francisco. Influenced by house music, Detroit techno, and disco, she released several recordings on the independent dance music label 100% Silk, including Queen of Cups, Far Away So Close, and Memory of Water, reissued in 2017.

KQED named Cherushii’s album Meow Wolf’s Arcade Soundtracks: Wiggy’s Plasma Plex one of the 10 best Bay Area albums of 2016. Fellow electronic musician Maria Minerva has called Cherushii “criminally underrated”.

Dolan was one of 36 victims of a fire that broke out at an underground venue and artist collective in Oakland, California commonly referred to as the Ghost Ship warehouse on December 2, 2016.

Wikipedia Article: Cherushii

Albums

Memory of Water – 100% Silk, 2015
Cherushii & Maria Minerva – 100% Silk, 2019 (posthumous release)

Singles and EPs

Queen of Cups (12”) – 100% Silk, 2013
Far Away So Close (12”) – 100% Silk, 2015
Starlight Express (EP), 2015
Nobody’s Fool (EP), 2015
Manic (EP), 2016

Chelsea died alongside another musical hero – Cash Askew (of Them Are Us Too) who will be the subject of a future portrait in this series. Much love and memory to all those affected by the fire.

Bask in Cherushii’s sounds here: https://cherushii.bandcamp.com/

No.34 Jenny Hval

From Hval’s Website:

Jenny Hval has in recent years made a name for herself as a recording artist and writer both in her native Norway and abroad. Multidisciplinary and transgressive are words often employed to describe her art, but Jenny Hval’s polyphonic artistry is in fact seamlessly interwoven between musical, literary, visual and performative modes of expression. Her artistic voice is altogether present, accessible and obscurely complex at the same time.

Hval released her first two albums under the alias Rockettothesky (an alias named after her very first recorded song in 1999, and slayed with the greatest pleasure in 2010). She has since recorded five albums and one EP under her own name: Viscera (2011), Innocence Is Kinky (2013), Apocalypse, girl (2015), Blood Bitch (2016), The Long Sleep EP (2018) and The Practice of Love (2019). Her last four releases have been co-produced by noise legend Lasse Marhaug and herself.

She made her debut as a writer with the novel Perlebryggeriet in 2009 (published in English in 2018 as Paradise Rot). The less genre friendly Inn i ansiktet followed in 2012. Her third book and second novel, Å hate Gud, was published in 2018, and translated & published in English as Girls Against God in late 2020.

She, or who are we kidding, I, have worked on a number of collaborations, sound pieces, compositions, productions and performances.

She lives in Oslo, and doesn’t update her biography very often.

Bandcamp here: https://jennyhval.bandcamp.com/

No.31 – Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon – Acrylic on canvas

I loved painting this image, itself I believe a digitally manipulated photo emphasising the cyborg – one of the many fascinating themes explored in Herndon’s work.

Listen to and buy her music here.

Great Pitchfork review of Herndon’s most recent album PROTO (made in collaboration with Mathew Dryhurst) here.

No. 29 – Mary J Blige

Close-up

Why MJB? Why MJB? People asked me around the time I was doing this.

Well, here’s least one good reason…

That’s why

Sound and production at this level filters out and back and forth with the underground and the scenes inform and influence each other. Once a song like this hits it immediately appears ‘obvious’ but it wasn’t and it isn’t.

Because… sometimes music reaches such heights of perfection that you just have to submit to it. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikpedia article on her:

In 1992, Blige released her first album, What’s the 411? Her 1994 album My Life is among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and Time magazine’s All-Time 100 Albums. She received a Legends Award at the World Music Awards in 2006, and the Voice of Music Award from ASCAP in 2007. Billboard ranked Blige as the most successful female R&B/Hip-Hop artist of the past 25 years. In 2017, Billboard magazine named her 2006 song “Be Without You” as the most successful R&B/Hip-Hop song of all time, as it spent an unparalleled 15 weeks atop the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and over 75 weeks on the chart. In 2011, VH1 ranked Blige as the 80th greatest artist of all time. ln 2012, VH1 ranked Blige at number 9 in “The 100 Greatest Women in Music” list.

If there isn’t a place for musicians this good on the list then please devise your own and paint your choices 🙂

Portrait progress, helpfully in random order, thanks to Google Photos’ collage algorithm
The Final Image