Jennifer Castle - Angels Of Death
On Jennifer Castle’s new album Angels of Death, her third full-length record under her given name (previous releases were credited to Castlemusic), the Ontario songwriter summons a kindred classical vision of the Muses as domestic familiars intimately in league with death. A sublime meditation on mortality and memory, ghosts and grief, Angels of Death casts a series of spells against forgetting and finality, in the form of mystic-minimalist country-soul torch songs about writing, time travel, and spectral visitations. Castle wrote and recorded this breathtaking follow-up to the acclaimed Pink City (2014) in a 19th century church near the shores of Lake Erie, where her family also lived and experienced a constellation of losses that inhabit these bruised musings. The title track finds Castle wrestling, like Jacob, with the radiant angels of death “hanging in the room,” while she attempts to navigate, or write, her way through the “loopholes and catacombs of time”—the line is borrowed, with permission, from fellow Canadian poet Al Purdy—like Ariadne in the labyrinth, with her spool of silver thread. Real-life muses haunt Angels of Death as well. In addition to Al Purdy, whose verse appears as a result of an invitation from Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene to incorporate a Purdy poem, Castle cites Cuban American artist Ana Mendieta, Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and Spanish artist Susana Salinas (the addressee of “Stars of Milk”) among those whose work served as catalysts. Angels of Death was produced by Castle and longtime collaborator Jeff McMurrich. Although augmented by notable other players at subsequent sessions, the core band comprised Paul Mortimer on lead guitar, David Clarke on acoustic guitar, Jonathan Adjemian on organ/piano, Mike Smith on bass (he also wrote the string arrangements), Robbie Gordon on drums, and Castle on guitar and vocals. Much of it, and most of Jennifer’s vocal tracks, were recorded live in the church over one cold weekend; “the moon,” Castle reflects, “was a member of the band.” Each side of the LP ends with a reprise of a 2008 song entitled “We Always Change,” a bit of wordplay, since “reprise” means a repetition or iteration. And so the record ends with metamorphoses—sequential transformations into a tree, the sea, a flame—much as it began with an enveloping presence neither fog, nor mist, nor cloud (“but you get the gist.”) Indeed, we always change. There’s no way out. We’re just passing through the ever omnipresent song. So let us, each of us, take our share in the Muses’ roses before we depart. Sappho knows. "Castle's music is not so much of the earth as floating above it, untethered to the natural order of time and space. Her songs live in that gray area where observation mutates into rumination, and where the physical world dissolves into psychic terrain." Pitchfork // "Ravishing, soulful ... stan ds comparison with the best of Judee Sill and Joanna Newsom." Uncut
Deluxe 140g virgin vinyl LP inner sleeve with lyrics, high-res DLC. RIYL: The Weather Station, Steve Gunn, Aldous Harding, Joan Shelley, Cass McCombs, Angel Olsen, Judee Sill, Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan & Leonard Cohen.