Track Of The Day: Penelope Trappes – ‘Nervous’

A graceful, evocative soundscape that tentatively traverses the inner thoughts of an anxious woman, Australian-born Brighton-based artist Penelope Trappes has shared her latest single ‘Nervous’. Taken from her new album Penelope Three, which is set to be released on 28th May via Houndstooth, the track ripples with a sense of mystery and disquiet, both of which are beautifully reflected in the accompanying video.

Forming the final part of her musical trilogy, Trappes’ upcoming album reflects on healing from grief while harnessing the unique power of her voice to tell tales of resilience and the restorative power of love. Utilizing her lived experiences as a mother and swiftly defying the limiting ageist and sexist industry ideas about women’s creativity, on ‘Nervous’ she masterfully layers her clear vocals over sparse beats and atmospheric electronics to hypnotic effect. “I’m digging up the underworld with visual motifs, and a mystical, gothic darkness that symbolises my struggles,” Trappes says of her new music, exhuming her feelings and finding joy and liberation in expressing the darker aspects of the emotional spectrum.

“In mid 2020 I began renting a strange and unique house in Brighton…I used the odd space and time to film the video for ‘Nervous’,” Trappes explains. “It delves inside the mind of a nervous smoking woman, which takes the form of an oppressive strange house. Inside, she is confronting the balance between the masculine and feminine within her, which take the form of two spirit characters. Outside there are expansive but liminal moments of reprieve from the claustrophobia, but she invariably gets drawn back into the anxious loop of her own mental entrapment.”

Watch the video for ‘Nervous’ below.

Penelope Trappes UK 2021 Live Dates
13 May The Great Escape, Brighton *Live Stream*
23 Sept The White Hotel, Manchester
24 Sept The Alchemy Experiment
25 Sept Future Yard, Birkenhead
26 Sept Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester
30 Sept The Rose Hill, Brighton
21 Nov St Pancras Church, London
24 Jul SNNTG Festival, Hannover
*supporting Leifur James

Follow Penelope Trappes on bandcampSpotifyInstagram and Facebook

Press Credit: Agnes Haus

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Rising Damp

A creator of brutal yet captivating soundscapes, Dublin based artist Rising Damp describes her recent EP, Petrol Factory, as “the quaking barrier between the end of the end of time and the end of the world.” Her dystopian visions are fleshed out with hypnotic electronics, dense drum beats and deadpan vocal delivery, and her live performances are a blend of improvised sounds and intriguing visuals.

We caught up with Rising Damp (aka Michelle Doyle) to talk about her recent EP, what she’s been creating during lockdown, and her upcoming contribution to A Litany Of Failures: Vol. III, an eclectic compilation album of music from grassroots Irish artists which is set for release on 2nd October…

 

Hello Michelle! Your EP Petrol Factory was recently featured in The Quietus’ 2020 ‘Albums Of The Year So Far‘ chart. What are you most proud of about this record?

I’m most proud about the journey of the album. Most songs were made in response to live gigs, and were never cast in stone, always improvised. Playing to bigger audiences forced me to have to professionalise my practice. It has made me think more visually about the stage show, creating of the band and a how video links this all.

Do you have a favourite track? If so, why?

My favourite song is ‘The Bank’. It was composed as part of an exhibition exploring subculture in Ireland. In Dublin, all the punks, skins and goths used to hangout at Central Bank, in the city centre. I was a late stage central banker and started hanging out as hoardings and gates went up to stop young people sitting on the steps. The Bank is a landmark of Irish modernism, but also where protests would start or finish and where Occupy was. The place is a site of both financial institution and protest. Everything that is done to Central Bank is to further the hostile architecture around it and create a fortress. The song is about building this space and the tension of holding onto it.

 

During lockdown you were recording shows for Dublin Digital Radio, playing tracks by Throbbing Gristle, Gazelle Twin & Nyx Drone Choir (all GIHE faves). Talk us through how you curated these shows and what you enjoyed most about recording them.

Often I curate a show by taking one theme and building a repository around it. For example, I did a vocal special about people using voice as an instrument without singing. Sometimes I approach the show as research for songwriting. Other times I just want to play some high energy music. I’m using Mixxx as I can’t access the DDR studio at the moment. I miss the cdjs and the tactile way they can make you create tunes on the fly.

How have you been coping during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic generally? Any advice for similar bands or artists who may be struggling right now?

My own feeling has been to reassess what your output should be. I was working on a live band towards playing festivals, and arranging with them and practising twice a week. When lockdown came, we had to stop and only got back in in May. Now we are taking a break during phase 3 again. As we can’t play live gigs, we are going to get back in to the studio and re-record songs from Petrol Factory as a live band and put them out. We’re also aiming to create videos to accompany. My most prized possession as a teenager was music video VHS and DVDs. I especially liked Sonic Youth’s for a DIY video art aesthetic. So trying to use the time now as a time for writing, editing and creating visual art.

Something positive during this time is your contribution to A Litany Of Failures: Vol. III. Your single ‘Cannibal’ features on the record. Talk us through what the track’s about and why you chose it for the compilation.

‘Cannibal’ came from playing in clubs between DJs who were DJing “hard drum” music. Originally it began as a jam and the lyrics came from a time I had just been in the dentist for an emergency tooth pull. A wisdom tooth was tearing flesh in my mouth, and gave me a serious infection. I’d written part of the song and finished it during the first lockdown. It seemed to change and become about feeding off past experiences and thoughts while isolated. Vocals recorded at home during lockdown were always pulled back as I live in a large group house.

Besides your own track, do you have a favourite track or a favourite band that also features on the compilation?

I love the Grave Goods and Extravision songs. It’s a great release, I’m super excited to be on vinyl.

What else is on the horizon for Rising Damp during these “unprecedented” times?

I’m putting together applications for exhibition/gigs in galleries where I can design a set, lighting and objects. Working on videos and new songs always.

Finally, are there any bands or artists you’d like to give a shout out too?

One artist who has a huge output and amazing energy is God Knows. I’m so impressed by his ability to keep exploring sound and switch things up. I love that he’s super attentive to his scene, is the opposite to a gatekeeper and is constantly bringing people in from all around Ireland. He’s a total supporter and great musician.

I also urge everyone to checkout Fulacht Fiadh, Salac, Dylan Kerr, Lastminuteman and Maria Somerville. Right now I’m buzzing off listening to the labels Chicago Research and Detriti Records.

Thanks to Michelle for answering our questions.
Follow Rising Damp on bandcampFacebook and Instagram for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Hilary Woods – ‘Birthmarks’

Both an aural purge of insecurities and a powerful exploration of self-autonomy, multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods‘ second album Birthmarks is a cohesive set of shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity. Darker and sharper in sound when compared to her debut album, Colt, the Irish musician has collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug for this latest release on Sacred Bones Records.

Recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by field recordings, the images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography and the secret life of trees, Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so transcendent.

Opener ‘Tongues Of Wild Boar’ is a foggy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort. From its scratchy dense opening, to its gentle blend of orchestral and electronic elements, it’s a intuitive track that scars and soothes in equal measure. “My body knows I can’t make it out” Woods muses on ‘Orange Tree’, tentatively trying to make peace with her physicality and her surroundings. This need to face her inner fears underscores the record, making it an unsettling, but liberating listen.

The tender ‘Through The Dark, Love’ feels like an intuitive guide through an ambiguous, tumultuous relationship, whilst the sparse instrumentation and the rhythmic humming on ‘Lay Bare’ is deeply comforting. The stretched out saxophone sounds, changing tempo and whispered lyrics on ‘Mud and Stones’ showcase the delicacy with which Woods crafts her songs. They all have a confessional, meditative nature, but her ability to switch from gentle to gritty within a few short seconds never fails to impress.

‘The Mouth’ is one of Birthmarks’ boldest tracks. A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation, it’s a somber yet powerful listen, laced with melancholy strings, saxophone and distorted drone noises. The denseness of instrumental ‘Cleansing Ritual’ is unexpectedly soothing too. Its layers of drone noises and distortion could cauterize the deepest of wounds. The eerie, persistent tapping of one key alongside Woods’ hushed voice on ‘There Is No Moon’ could feel desolate, but instead it feels restles, as if she is keeping herself awake with the urgency of that repeated note.

Though quiet in terms of volume, Birthmarks is an abrasive, primal, charged offering that allows Woods the space to navigate uncertain emotional territory, highlighting her strength and resilience as an artist. Though fueled by uncertainty, it’s a carefully constructed record that provides space for healing and acceptance.

Pre-order Hilary Woods’ new album Birthmarks here (released 13th March via Sacred Bones)
Follow Hilary Woods on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright 

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Hilary Woods – ‘The Mouth’

A fleshy, twisted lullaby about personal hesitation; Hilary Woods has shared her latest single, ‘The Mouth’. Taken from her second album Birthmarks, which is set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the track is a somber yet powerful listen; laced with strings, saxophone, and distorted drone noises.

Speaking about the track, Woods explains: “The impulse to write ‘The Mouth’ came from a longing to articulate feelings aloud that I failed to express til the moment had passed.” Though fueled by uncertainty and doubt, ‘The Mouth’ is one of Woods’ boldest, most confident tracks. It’s a dense, layered, carefully constructed soundscape that provides space for healing and acceptance.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks looks set to be her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so mesmerising and transcendent.

Listen to ‘The Mouth’ below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook & Spotify for more updates. Catch her live at Cafe Oto, London, on 18th May

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut