The Violencestring #UMCD0007 11 Dec 2007

Artist: Shelly Blake-Plock
Shelly Blake-Plock voice, keys, guitars
Niklas Barnö trumpet, choral voice
John Dierker bass clarinet, tenor sax
Emir Sze no-attack guitar
Ryan Dorsey violin, choral voice
Jenny Graf Sheppard voice
Joel Grip double bass, cowhorn, voice
Twig Harper voice, recorder, jaw harp
Jessica Riefler voice
Aaron Henkin banjo
Mike Apichella electronics
Lyle Kissack percussion
Lawrence Lanahan prepared slide guitar
Carly Ptak voice, soprano recorder, reeds
Ben McConnell drums
Eve Risser piano, synth, flute, theremin,
MJ Wojewodzki voice
Johanna Wojewodzki voice


Shelly Blake-Plock and musical director Joel Grip assembled an international cast featuring Parisian phenom Eve Risser, Stockholm-based trumpeter Niklas Barnö, reedman John Dierker, violinist Ryan Dorsey, drummers Lyle Kissack and Ben McConnell, and Jessica Riefler, Carly Ptak, Twig Harper, Lawrence Lanahan as well as others in voice roles to record an album that merges radical 21st century experiments in free improvisation and concrete studio manipulation with traditional 19th century storytelling and character acting. It is produced by Shelly Blake-Plock and Matthew H. Welch.

An eclectic work comprised of styles ranging from free drones tosch maltzy quasi-jazz to improvised chamber pieces to noisy art rock, ‘The Violencestring’ is based on a Victorian short story by Sabine Baring-Gould. It tells the story of a young boy whose only desire lies in learning to play the violin. Alas, when one’s parents are werewolves, music lessons just aren’t in the cards.

Blake-Plock and Welch recorded the album in an abandoned mansion in West Baltimore. Shelly’s lo-fi roots and unique take on sound editing come through especially strong on the project. He has called his process ‘reductive sound’, whereby a wall of instruments is recorded live – some through a small army of microphones and some direct to the board. Decisions are then made in the editing room to ‘chip away’ at the recording in an attempt to find the music and sound most essential to drive the narrative forward. Rather than smooth out the edits, Shelly leaves the edges hard and allows fields of sound and space to emerge and disappear in a very blunt and raw way. Residue and hidden scraps of sound therefore emerge as if from a palimpsest.

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