Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 3:13 AM
Life on earth: both a curse and a gift.
A new recording by Tiny Vipers calls out to the void for an answer or a reason. Tiny Vipers is Jesy Fortino, a musician living in Seattle.
Creating and performing the music for her new album with a singular approach, Life on Earth is a private vision unfolding, at times crystal-clear and at other times shrouded in a mystical fog. People and times past wander through these songs like ghosts looking for a home. And questions arise for anyone listening: Where did they go? Where have they been?
Since her last and first album, 2007’s Hands Across the Void, Fortino has been back and forth across Europe, on tours into and through the United States, transfixing audiences into a solemn hush. Her captivating performance on the Burn to Shine 5: Seattle DVD proved such a highlight that a still from it is the cover of that edition. Braving a world at times not ready to contemplate its own doing, she brings honesty to her live performances.
Recordings for the new album began at home and were then interpreted by Andrew Hernandez in a classic analog studio in Austin, TX. Retaining both the glow of her work on guitar and the strength of her voice, Hernandez has captured the organic nature mirrored in the concepts of the album. A special effort was made to keep the recordings as authentic as possible. Like much of her previous work, she uses the past as a lantern to illuminate the darkness of the future.
Transcending the mere folk tag (“She’s not telling stories; she’s after incantation and trance” — New York Times), Fortino leaves behind her contemporaries. The music has been deconstructed into an aether that floats beside the poignant lyrics. Drawing from disparate inspirational sources, from the avant-garde or country musician Townes Van Zandt, Fortino’s playing is no imitation. It stands as its own, giving a musical life to those themes that inhabit her lyricisms: love found and lost, places come and gone. The persona of this album stands like a mountain watching the world go by, changing so fast. The future annihilates the past, consuming it like a fire.
Yet this is no bleak dirge. There are triumphs hidden behind the sorrows. A shining hope permeates the threat of doom here. Desperation fades and leaves you free in the end.