Monday, February 01, 2010

Weird Tales for Winter: Newsletter #10

"I first encountered Vanessa Daou in the strangest of situations. I had been aimless and adrift for a few years in Manchester in the north of England. In fact, I'd been forced to abandon Manchester for the vacant industrial satellite town of Bolton as I made a final attempt at finishing a bachelors in Philosophy. A shopping centre had been opened- pure chrome and harsh electric light, a giant bunker, a 'designer' fortress dropped in the abandoned heart of Salford. The launch and subsequent management of the centre had been entirely botched so that my 10 hour shifts would involve contact with only 10 customers a day (and that was on a good day). Nobody ever showed. I spent nearly 2 years in a bleakly over lit trance- you see, I have my reasons for obsessing about Ballard.

There was a music store there specialising in discounted music- the usual array of budget classics, nothing unexpected- no surprises. One day, bored to the point of dementia, I wandered off my patch to leaf through the same cod’s just for something to do and this one fortuitous time, I found a new neon-blue artefact staring back up at me. Zipless by Vanessa Daou.

I recalled seeing something favourable about it in The Wire magazine. There was one copy, it looked out of place, surely some mistake... A collaboration between New Yorkers Vanessa and her then husband Peter with words adapted by Vanessa from Peter's aunt Erica Jong, Zipless is a beautiful trove of sublime erotic electronic pop. And as anybody who loves pop music knows, there can be more subversiveness in the space of a 3 minute adrenaline shot of pop than in vast swathes of avant-garde investigation. What gave the album an edge was the sheer surreal intimacy of Vanessa's voice and delivery- like an Yves Tanguy painting, every vocal shape seemed to take on an alien quality- strange and familiar all at once.

Cut to 2010, with a succession of always morphing productions exploring a weird ambient hinterland between pop, jazz, soul and electronica, Vanessa has moved into multimedia production, dance, computer coding and released her first self-produced album Joe Sent Me, a strange riff on the speakeasy that spirals into explorations of love and loss...

Tonight's penultimate Weird Tale is a gothic tone poem from a wintry New York City- a blurring of song, poetry, sound with her trademark intensely soft intimacy. You can check Vanessa's own web hub for the Weird Tales series here.

I look forward to joining you at the witching hour..."

jonny mugwump

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