RIYL: Anything a Kinsella has put out

Label: Polyvinyl Records

Polyvinyl Records comes through again with another sale event to write home about. In celebration of Black Friday, Polyvinyl‘s allowing you to clear out their extensive stock of posters, pillows, CDs, shirts and most importantly, their limited edition vinyl. Joan of Arc’s Testimonium Songs had two pressings, in magenta and black, and while the magenta is long sold out (Scott, the captain of the ship, wrote it up a while back) the black is still here and limited. Testimonium Songs is an atypical release from the avant-rock/emo band, as the synopsis points out, showcasing a lot more structuring. This album is also supposed to be performed as part of a play, so it makes sense. The album is adapted from poetry that was adapted from court testimonies spanning from 1895-1915. While not directly quoting the poetry (most of the time, as the synopsis points out), Joan of Arc maintain the surrealist nature of such a project in their interpretation. Listen to the Bandcamp stream of Testimonium Songs below and see what you think of it. Cheers!

The Details

Testimonium Songs collects the song cycle composed by Joan of Arc (Tim Kinsella, Bobby Burg, and Theo Katsaounis) to be performed live in Testimonium, a work of performance by well-respected experimental theater ensemble Every House Has a Door.

Testimonium responds -- both in substance and in style --to Charles Reznikoff’s monumental work Testimony, a translation into poetry of courtroom transcripts of witness and victim testimonies in criminal cases and cases of workplace negligence, in the US, spanning the years 1885 to 1915.

Performances of Testimonium incorporate modern dance, theater, and original songs written and played by Joan of Arc.

In a departure for the band, these highly structured compositions, developed over a two-year rehearsal period, emulate Reznikoff’s poetics by shaping themselves according to a mosaic method – rotating a fixed set of musical units in warping permutations.

The lyrics re-invent the strategies of Objectivist poetry, by turns surreal, ordinary, testimonial, and explosive, releasing the undercurrent of emotion in the poems while (almost) never quoting them directly.

Beyond collecting the Testimonium Songs, the record has a life of its own, with the contributions of stellar musicians David Grubbs, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Michael Zerang, and Jim Baker, additional vocals by Melina Ausikaitis, and musical material not included in the performance.

The cover art was made by renowned Chicago artist Jason Lazarus.

Price $15

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