Very often, the move from containment to connection is a difficult one. After all, there’s a lot at stake – one’s sense of self, most importantly – but sometimes, it comes naturally and easily.
For Missouri-born, singer-songwriter and guitarist Angel Olsen, the recording of her second album was a relaxed and enjoyable process, despite the fact that she was working on her own, highly personal material in creative collaboration for the first time, with musicians she’d been playing with for barely six months. That the three are now a band proper says much about not only their talent, but also the singer’s desire to push her extraordinarily compelling songs into new territory and watch them develop.
Olsen, of course, has an impeccable cooperative pedigree. As a member of Emmett Kelly’s The Cairo Gang, she’s toured with Bonnie “Prince” Billy (on whose Wolfroy Goes To Town album she appeared) and has twice duetted with Marissa Nadler, to devastatingly minimal effect, but her first two recordings were very much Olsen in solo mode.
The kitchen-recorded, reverb-shrouded Strange Cacti EP from 2010 was almost spectral in its simplicity, while Half Way Home, her debut album of 2012 was a work of poetic profundity delivered on acoustic guitar, with mere hints of double bass and drums and by a remarkable voice. Now, Burn Your Fire For No Witness.
It sees Olsen again exploring themes of place and belonging, loss and loneliness, but this time with drummer Josh Jaeger and bass player Stewart Bronaugh – the former a dramaturg/playwright and former colleague from her days working in a café in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, the latter Jaeger’s band mate in garage-pop outfit ‘Lionlimb’– and using a much broader sound palette.
Olsen remains the dynamic nucleus of the band; her voice – equal parts Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison and Hope Sandoval – speaks (literally) loudest and her songs are profoundly personal. So much so that at times, it seems even listening is as intrusive as reading the pages of a private journal. But anguished though Olsen’s honesty can be, it’s not the stuff of dramatic torment. She speaks about letting her experiences “run through” her when she writes.
Journeyman singer, songwriter, poet, and multi-instrumentalist Rodrigo Amarante first became known as a member of popular Brazilian rock group Los Hermanos. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Amarante joined the band shortly before the release of their 1999 debut album, which vaulted them into the spotlight with the hit single “Anna Júlia.”
Though he played a minor role on their first album, he became an increasingly bigger presence on each of their three subsequent albums, writing and singing much of the band’s material as they altered their sound, adding more Brazilian and bossa nova influences and downplaying their heavier rock tendencies.
During this time, Amarante became a part of Brazilian big band Orquestra Imperial, who paired notable names from the Carioca pop scene like Nina Becker and Moreno Veloso with veteran musicians to play classic samba tunes. In 2006, the orchestra released their debut, Carnaval Só Ano Que Vem, just as Los Hermanos were winding down toward an indefinite hiatus that occurred in early 2007.
That same year, he traveled to California to join indie folk singer Devendra Banhart on his album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. During this time, he befriended Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti and multi-instrumentalist Binki Shapiro, and the three formed a new rock group called Little Joy, who released a self-titled album on Rough Trade in 2008.
During the next several years, Amarante continued to write songs, occasionally contributing to other projects. A pair of Los Hermanos reunions occurred in 2009 and 2010, but no new music was recorded. In 2013, he finally made his debut as a solo artist with the album Cavalo.
Presented by Digital in Berlin. Check out our facebook page to win tickets.
Angel Olsen + Rodrigo Amarante
Wednesday, 08th October 2014 | 21:00 CET
Bi Nuu | Im Schlesischen Tor | 10997 Berlin/Kreuzberg