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At Home With My Candles

by Half Shadow

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Limited Pressing, White Vinyl in Hand-Compiled Sleeves with Offset Printed Art and Silver, Risographed Lyric Sheet

    Includes digital pre-order of At Home With My Candles. You get 10 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    digital album releases April 8, 2022
    item ships out within 10 days
    edition of 100  4 remaining

      $22 USD or more 

     

  • Streaming + Download

    Pre-order of At Home With My Candles. You get 10 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    Purchasable with gift card
    releases April 8, 2022

      $7 USD

     

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about

Buy Digital Copies from the band HERE: hlfshdw.bandcamp.com/album/at-home-with-my-candles

Buy Tapes from Dove Cove here: dove-cove.com

A corelease from Illusion Florist and Dove Cove, the new LP from Half Shadow is full of magic. That intangible feeling you get when you feel a bluster of wind in your living room, a tap comes from a window you were not aware of, a whisper that you do not recognize. Its grand, beyond words for me. I can't wait to help share it with you.

At Home With My Candles, Half Shadow’s third LP is an album of mythopoetic paeans to the domestic uncanny—the mysterious and unseen worlds experienced at home. Recorded almost entirely in quarantine, the record’s songs chart the beauty and strangeness that domestic life can conjure, at once ordinary and utterly mystical. Long the enigmatic moniker of Portland’s Jesse Carsten, Half Shadow’s new songs expand the project’s intimate poetics into something more expansive and encompassing, without ever losing a sense of tenderness. Intimate folk songs magnify into anthemic chant-alongs, lo-fi dirges, and primal pop experiments. Genres blend with a subtly psychedelic grace, with Carsten’s voice delivering dream-laden poems always at the center of the sound. Listeners are sung into an interiorized sphere: an otherworldly landscape of tension, languor, and mystery. From the place of home a whole cosmos fans out.

Taking its cues from the surrealists, and especially Leonora Carrington, whose famous self-portrait inspired the lead off track (“Inn of the Dawn Horse”), the album’s lyrics welcome dream logic and non-linearity as central tenets of their make-up. Like the fractured, domestic narratives of Maya Deren’s oceanic films, or the strange, liminal interiors of Dorothea Tanning’s paintings, these songs eschew conventional extraversion, instead revealing subtler stratas of the domestic. Home becomes a portal to the imaginal: painted in all the vivid and occasionally unsettling colors of the unconscious realm. Eternity grows from the psychedelic soil of the yard (“Song for the Garden”), enigmatic presences stalk a darkened bedroom (“In My Room (A Creature Approaches)”), and a lover’s whispered voice opens the entryway to a clandestine beach (“Flame (Flower in the Air)”). As in so many dreams, landscape and interiority blend, revealing an elemental world, that while unpredictable, is full of beauty and visceral emotion.

At Home’s songs test this boundary between the interior and the infinite, as on “Moonless (Unmoored)” in which Carsten repetitively incants “what door can you open onto timeless shore? / an ocean breathes in a midnight, / moonless and unmoored.” Something more profound and unexpected haunts this space, an uncanny presence worthy of devotion. With an ecstatic tenderness, Carsten’s lyrics come to chant this living unknown: “From my heart is tethered / even more / From my heart is tethered great emptinesses of galaxies abhorred / and your great face / my word to explore / your great face, opening / like a blossom on the verge of / nothing more.” From the opening of the garden gate to the black edge of the expanding universe, these songs brim electric, full of a hearth’s roaring fire, and the darkness after its gone out. What cosmic force might be hiding in that absence? What deep mystery can a house hold? Revelations are poised in half-light, uncovered only briefly, before slipping back into the dark.

This duality of light and dark, the hidden and the exalted has remained a marker of Half Shadow’s poetics since the project’s beginning. This record is no different. Returning from a particularly exhausting tour in November of 2019, Carsten came back to Portland with the intention of putting new songs to tape. Turning inward felt like the right medicine following the extroversion of travel and a busy show schedule. Coincidentally most of the Half Shadow songs collected in notebooks and voice memos over the last year were about home—its beauty, generosity, its difficulties, and strangeness. What began as two weeks of recording time expanded into months of writing and rewriting, dreams collected and poeticized, and a deeper, more insular experience of home as the gloomy winter in the Pacific Northwest set in. Then, the virus, a country-wide lockdown, and a requirement to view the home-space in an entirely new way. From an expressly outer world, to an overtly, uncomfortably inner one in a matter of days. From sunlight into full, unexpected shadow.

What began as a thematically synchronistic project grew into a timely and urgent contemplation: how do we truly relate to these spaces that we inhabit, habitually, unconsciously; that hold us in our most fragile moments and challenge us in their monotony? Play host to our deepest fantasies and fears, joys and strifes, creative workings, personal successes and failures? How do we love in these spaces, find connection, grieve, and grow? How are houses like a skin—a mind, a body—in which we must live and leap, finding the strength to risk a more complex life? Or as the song “A Full Day Spent (Between the Worlds)” puts it: “how does one find themselves in the house / when on every door comes a ceaseless knocking / that refuses to stop?” The world calls us out into its churning energy, its wide space, its communal atmosphere, and yet—as so many of us have been forced to endure these past years—sometimes we must remain turned inward, in contemplation, held in the house of mystery, sometimes against our will.

While At Home’s songs were for the most part collected to tape in solitude, the album’s texture came alive with the help of a group of collaborators recording their parts at a distance. Featuring contributions from Yaara Valey (Antiquated Future), Zach Burba (Iji, Mega Bog, Dear Nora), Jem Marie (The Ghost Ease), Julian Morris (Layperson, Post Moves), and mastering from Kevin Christopher (Oh Rose, Ancient Pools), these songs emerge in vivid technicolor. While retaining their humble core, these acoustic visions spiral out in echoes of droning violin, bellowing orchestral flugelhorn, glittering synth, and choral waterfalls of multitracked voices. These are joyful, eclectic song-collages, that embrace the experimental and environmental songwriting tradition of the Pacific
Northwest while enfolding an array of more canonical art-voicings. Think ‘Venus in Furs’ crossbred with Sade, played back on Brigitte Fontaine’s stereo with Robbie Basho’s detuned guitar dancing in rivulets over the Raincoats-esque free violin phrasing. Sounds are familiar but somehow altogether unanticipated and revivifying; trance inducing, luscious. Could this music-landscape be a new home?

Half Shadow reveals a world surviving on the edge of the known and generously offers it to the tortured ears of the day-sleepers. A piscean dream-vision shining through silver branches into the bedroom of every seeking soul. At Home opens the curtains and collects these lunar sound rays in a tea-bowl for drinking up; a sense of poetic nourishment in sonic form. By its close At Home With My Candles has induced a surreal clarity and continued the work begun with Half Shadow’s 2019 album Dream Weather Its Electric Song: engaging listeners in a process of seeing our world, our selves, and in this case the homes we haunt, with new, uncanny vision. At Home With My Candles is out April 8, 2022 on Bud Tapes and Dove Cove Records.

credits

releases April 8, 2022

Recorded and Mixed at the House of Plenty, Portland; Sou'wester Lodge, Seaview, Washington as part of their Artist Residency; and at the Riegel Homestead, Granite Bay, California, November 2019-August 2021. Distance Recording was done in friends' personal studios all over the West Coast.

All Songs by Jesse Carsten except "A Full Day Spent (Between the Worlds)" which is a found poem, written by Allison Riegel originally as a brainstorming list. Copyrights in infamy.

Zach Burba - Saxophone
Jesse Carsten - Guitar, Vocals, Drums, Bass, Violin, Percussion, Keyboards
Grant Fairbrother - Vocals
Jacob Jaffe - Piano
Julian Morris - Vocals
Jem Marie - Vocals
Kira Sassano - Vocals
Marit Schmidt - Viola
Yaara Valey - Flugelhorn, Vocals

Mastering by Kevin Christopher at Heavy Meadow Sound
Photos by Allison Riegel & Jesse
Design & Layout by Jesse

Released as a collaboration between Bud Tapes, Dove Cove Records, and Illusion Florist Records.

BUD 31; DC 013; IF 005

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