In the midst of all thius madness it's good to be able to find comfort and solace in the continuing release of new music. Today marks the release of a new album from long term Ransom Note collaborator Zoon van snooK via Lo Recordings, a longstanding label with which he has been working with closely in recent times. Titled "Separacion", with a hell of a lot of scattered bulletpoints dotted throughout, it features ten tracks and spans a breadth of soundscapes and structures with poignant, personal references scattered throughout.
We asked him to guide us through the release track by track:
“The writing of the album - each song being based around differing ideas of separation - was informed by the previous two years of my life, where hitherto I had been living in Catalunya - a region beset with the overhanging phantom of independence and the perceived fine line of nationalism, which unavoidably arises as a by-product of these sentiments. All of this set against the unmentionable 'B' word back in the UK, unfolding like a soiled sleeping bag that was bestowed but never requested.
These sociopolitical situations also seemed to backdrop a number of personal setbacks over this period, each galvanising a sense of isolation and the overall theme of separation. Whether it be the break down of a relationship; detachment; isolation; or the death of a parent, these periods in our lives that test us and lay us low can provide the background hum that, though at times seems deafening and unmanageable, can provide the underlying base note from which to create harmony. I travelled around South and Central America in 2018, taking field recordings as I went, which I knew would form the backbone of a new record that I would write upon my return to the UK. I wanted to strip everything back with this record and focus solely on the one instrument; there's something utterly mesmeric and trance-inducing about sitting on your own, with just the resonance and overtones of a grand piano for company."
1. The Coral & The Hummingbird (COL)
I wrote this song for and about a friend who had re-entered my life after a 20+ year absence. The title relates to the two corresponding animal spirit totems. Broadly symbolising: - Coral: deep profound changes - Hummingbird: migration and travelling long distances. Being in the present, something I have been working hard at over the period of gestation of this album.
2. Zócalo (MEX)
From an elevated position in Zócalo Square, Mexico City, you can see three separate ages of Mexican architecture: Pre-columbian; colonial; and modern/contemporary.
3. ¡Madre! (CHL / GTM)
The field recording that appears in the this song was taken in Santiago, Chile, but is of a Guatemalan funeral rites song. Families spent years wondering where their 'disappeared' loved ones were during the time of the Mayan genocide and Guatemala civil war in the early 80s. Some of them were lucky enough to find remains and have a ceremony in which to inter them properly.
4. Rocinha (BRA)
The monologue in this song is a guy called Carlos who showed us around his favela, Rocinha, (the biggest favela in South America) in Rio de Janeiro. He took the opportunity to speak about the historical social injustice and disparity in the two forcibly separate populations of the city and the favelas, and how they are kept apart physically and in the minds of the better off.
5. Lago (BOL)
The field recording was taken on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, made up of two basins, which separates Bolivia from Peru. The early natives who still live on the lake to this day, first built the floating islands to keep themselves apart from the war and oppression suffered by the mainland population.
6. Subachoque (COL)
This is built around a scratchy old recording of me playing the ukulele in the green hills of Subachoque, a tiny municipality 45km from Bogotá in Colombia. I was staying with a local couple and, being 20 minutes by vehicle from any amenities, I understood the sense of detachment and isolation of which they sometimes spoke.
7. Selva (PER)
This recording of tree frogs was taken whilst trekking in the Peruvian jungle. Whilst being in a larger group when you set off, there were many times where your pace would separate you from anyone else - these were inexplicably precious moments. Travelling alone, for me, allows a different kind of experience. Not being able to discuss something or analyse verbally, leaves you much more time and space to fully engage with it and appreciate where you are and what you are encountering.
8. Cusco (PER)
The chanting in this track is from a Quechuan tribal ceremony that I witnessed in Cusco, Peru. This song is about how the Quechuans (Incas) and indigenous people in general were separated from their families and homeland by the Spanish conquistadors.
9. Dead Woman's Pass (PER)
The flute or 'quena' in this recording was played by a musician I happened to pass on the way down from Dead Woman's Pass - the highest point of the Inca trail, which separates the two parts of the trek - so named because from the bottom, the peaks resemble a woman lying face up.
10. Teotihuacan (MEX)
This is an ancient Mesoamerican city about 40km from Mexico City, where the Avenue of the Dead and the Pyramids of the sun and moon are located. The recording is of a Mayan flute with stunning natural reverb bouncing between the pyramids. It is thought that this area, rather than being inhabited by one isolated group of people, was actually a multi-ethnic state. I felt like I needed to redress the balance and turn the idea of separation on its head, to close the album.
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