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by Clara Engel

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Pax Texiana, Undergrowth, Young Attendant, Astronomical Winter, Moving Backwards, Simple Air, Layers Volume Two, Layers Volume One, and 24 more. , and , .

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Fallen Nest 02:00
Gone to Seed 05:16
Smooth Stone 05:56
Take Me Home 01:45


Dig into Avi's excellent discography here: aviengel.bandcamp.com


In September of 2022 I was finishing up a new album, slated for release in 2023, when I hit an impasse and decided to temporarily give up. This album is what happened after I "gave up." I recorded it over the span of about a week, and let myself play around with no goal or concept. My conclusion is that it is a good idea to give up now and then; messing around with these sounds rekindled my sense of possibility. Most of the pieces are based around spontaneous melodies and improvised musical meditations played on talharpa, cigar box guitar, melodica, and percussion. At the time that I was working on this I was listening mostly to an album by Burning Spear on repeat, a fact which is not reflected in the sound of this album, but I find it interesting so I thought I'd mention it.

"Mayn Rue Plats" by Morris Rosenfeld is the only vocal piece on the album. Rosenfeld wrote this poem/song in response to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, but it speaks more timelessly to the plight of workers whose lives are largely spent in toil, often removed from daylight, struggling to get by. There is something that made sense to me about including this particular song of lament and protest alongside these improvisations/musical mantras, which, (even though they are dark in tone), for me evoke forests, skies, stony riverbeds, spiderwebs, and the elemental sense of being a living creature immersed with other living (or once living) creatures. The juxtaposition of these pieces with that song calls up the vast, mute, and unnameable feeling I get when I see photographs of abandoned factories and ghost towns overgrown with greenery, of saplings bursting through concrete.

I'd been attempting to cover "Mayn Rue Plats" for a while, but was never satisfied with the result. I began with a faithful approach, note for note, chord for chord, but it sounded stilted. I returned to the song years later, and this time sang it over a cyclical and ponderous churning refrain on my four-string cigar box guitar. I recorded it in one take on a dark rainy day with the window open, so you can hear the ambience of a downpour in the background. I don't speak Yiddish, but it was my father's first language. He died in 2017, and I've found myself seeking out Jewish music since then; it feels like a form of connection to him and to that side of my family, which I know little about.

This is my second recording featuring the talharpa (aka bowed lyre), and I'm getting more skilled at coaxing a melody out of it. The final song is the refrain of a country folk hit that I'm sure most people will recognize. At first I played it as a joke, and then I thought: how many bowed lyre covers of Country Roads are there out there? Maybe I ought to fill the void.

The cover image is a drawing I made of a frond or a seahorse, or some chimeric hybrid. Whatever it is, it's alive. Ferns are ancient silent witnesses to so many other life-forms that have emerged and vanished. Seahorses have translucent otherworldly bodies, and it is the male who gives birth. Both of these living beings remind me of how rich and strange life is, and that there is so much more on earth beyond the fabric of the human world.

I think of this EP as a soundtrack to a short film that doesn't exist, an interlude between my albums, and a wild ravine right beside a busy highway intersection.



released August 21, 2023

All pieces improvised and written by Clara Engel except for "Mayn Rue Platz" which was written by Morris Rosenfeld, and Take Me Home, which is the chorus melody line of John Denver's "Country Roads"

Clara Engel: cigar box guitar, talharpa, voice, melodica, percussion, cover artwork

Recorded and mixed at home in 2022 by Clara Engel

Mastered by Krzysztof Sujata


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Geology Records Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wisconsin label with a wandering focus releasing cassettes in small runs.

Est. 2013

Currently not accepting demos.


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