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Molasses: A Slow Messe

Fancy and Alien8 Recordings are thrilled to announce the latest release by Montréal folk-drone ensemble Molasses, a harrowing 26 track double CD entitled a slow messe. Relatively little has been heard from Molasses since its superb second CD, trilogie: toil & peaceful life was released in autumn 2000; but even as various band members were busy working with godspeed you! black emperor, Shalabi Effect, set fire to flames, Hrsta, Empty House Cooperative, and other projects, Molasses quietly assembled for a series of sporadic and inspired 24-track recordings at Montréal’s mighty Hotel2Tango. These recordings, begun in the spring of 2001 and completed in the winter of 2002, combined with found sounds, field recordings and home tapes, comprise Molasses’ third release. Although it is decidedly denser than previous Molasses albums, this by no means signals a different direction for the band; several of these songs are as old or older than Molasses itself.

“a slow messe” (a bastard anagram of “molasses” which has been used as a performing alias), is a fitting allusion to the tempo, disorder and spirit of the album; it is also a reference to the religion and language of Montréal (“messe” is the French word for a mass), a city long-suffering in the grip of the Church. The album, featuring a slew of honorary members and distinguished guests, is a remarkable and ambitious accomplishment, full of the delicate ballads, explosive improvisations, swirling drones and orchestrated minimalism that have helped earn Molasses its cult following. The somber, superlative songs of Scott Chernoff resonate at the center of astonishing music made by Thierry Amar, Flüffy Erskine, Norsola Johnson, Kate Lawrence, Mike Moya and Sam Shalabi. Together the band continues to chart vast sonic territory with utter originality; and the band’s exquisite energy is everywhere on a slow messe: From trademark folk-noir ballads to clanging, chaotic funeral dirges; from lushly subtle love songs to cryptic, off-kilter pop songs. There are Siren choirs and haunting eulogies, little lullabies and spooky blues ruminations. Of the 26 songs, 13 are lyrical and 13 are instrumental; whether at their most fragile or most ferocious, those songs are a passionate & powerful antidote to the all-too-often cold and clinical music of our times.

Molasses’ core of acoustic and electric guitars, strings, percussion, saw, piano, organ and banjo, is enhanced here by Thalia Zedek (Live Skull, Come, Empty House) on guitar, clarinet and backing vocals; Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine, Pullman, Empty House) on guitar; David Michael Curry (Empty House, Willard Grant Conspiracy, Boxhead Ensemble, Will Oldham) on strings, guitar, horns and backing vocals; Efrim Menuck (gy!be, a silver mt. zion) on harmonium; Bruce Cawdron (gy!be, set fire to flames, Hrsta) on marimba; and J.S. Truchy (Fly Pan Am, set fire to flames, Hrsta) on tapes. There are also appearances by vocalist Jennifer Ménard and a horn section culled from the finest of Montréal’s free-music improvisers.

Each disc is accompanied by a booklet of photographs and text and is housed in a gatefold sleeve which slips into an over-sized envelope bearing a photograph of Montreal’s 1850s neo-gothic Christ Church Cathedral. As with all our releases, the packaging for a slow messe is beautiful, ornate and, of course, Fancy.

Disc 1 (Running Time: 41:55)

  1. désolé
  2. Valley song
  3. Dans une Maison Croulante
  4. insomnia
  5. fm
  6. whitey blues
  7. Whitman County revisited
  8. death march (Erskine’s theme)
  9. hopeless
  10. Our Lady of Winter
  11. killing Lucy Stone
  12. New World Harbor
  13. adieu L.S.A.

Disc 2 (Running Time: 47:35)

  1. delirium rag
  2. le jardin de fer
  3. Astrée
  4. les enfants d’anarchie
  5. silkworm
  6. beyond the zero
  7. Chinatown No. 33
  8. vespers
  9. la berceuse d’Ève (Eve’s lullaby)
  10. reprieve, 15 juillet
  11. désolé reprise
  12. enemy hymn
  13. slow mass




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