Olden Yolk

Olden Yolk

Bill MacKay, Matchess

Thu, May 30, 2019

9:00 pm

The Hideout

Chicago, IL

$10

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Olden Yolk
Olden Yolk
Olden Yolk is the project led by songwriters Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer. Their 2018 self-titled LP enveloped listeners in a sound uniquely of-the-moment yet simultaneously time-tested, oscillating between art rock tendencies and delicate, yet angular ballads. The project was initially conceived in 2012 by Butler as an outlet for one-off songs and visual art while touring and releasing albums with the band Quilt (Mexican Summer). Following the release of a split-record with Weyes Blood in 2014, the duo released their first full-length LP on Trouble in Mind in 2018. The record grew from a poetry collaboration Shaffer and Butler started in 2016, in which they would write a poem to each other each day.

On their second studio album, Living Theatre, these lines jump from the page into an animated, breathing organism. Living Theatre conjures moments of stark minimalism and cinematic maximalism, most potent for Shaffer and Butler’s lyrical intimacy and vivid arrangements. The title was inspired by the experimental thespian movement in New York of the same name, in which actors broke from tradition by creating an experience of communal expression. Their songwriting palette takes cues from influences as disparate as avant garde punk, psychedelic folk, and experimental electronic music. Inspired by both freedom and restriction in their creative practice, the pair set to record the album in a constrained period of 3 months after spending a year on the road touring without a home base. They wrote all summer, in a space with no windows, molding private conversations into more expansive works that address concepts of home, spirituality, and ancestry in a contemporary landscape. “Grand Palais” is a celebratory inquiry into the practice of self-compassion, while the more ominous “Distant Episode” (named after the Paul Bowles story about a linguist whose tongue is cut off) paints a picture of a woman trapped inside a room with a television.

The album was conceived alongside percussionist Booker Stardrum and co-producer Jarvis Taveniere (Woods) in collaboration with Eliza Bagg, Frank Maston, Peter Wagner and Benjamin Levinson. It was was recorded at Comp-NY in Los Angeles by Jarvis Taveniere with additional help from Vishal Nayak at The Black Lodge in New York City.
Bill MacKay
Bill MacKay
Bill MacKay is a highly-regarded guitarist-composer-improviser based in Chicago. He has energized experimental folk, rock, and avant-garde scenes with his radiant songwriting, and creative and unpredictable approach to the guitar—via his band Darts & Arrows and through collaborations with artists such as Ryley Walker, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and many more. His recently release solo album, Esker (Drag City), is "a rich and easygoing reminder that the American guitar tradition is a vast and detailed one.”—NPR.
Matchess
Matchess
The Rafter appears amidst the Matchess Trilogy -- Seraphastra, Somnaphoria, and Sacrecorpa (forthcoming) – a temporary diversion into darker psychedelia and, at once, deeper mindfulness. The title is derived, in part, from a transcendent experience by Ólafur Kárason of Ljósavík, the central character of the novel World Light by Halldór Laxness. Though he has been all but abandoned in the barn loft by his foster family, Ólafur is sustained by his unwavering drive to become a true poet. After suffering injuries and illnesses from farm work and neglect, the bedridden child stares at the angled roof, facing his death. Only at the point of utter disorientation does Ólafur discover the light of the world descending from The Rafter.

“So he lay there hovering between life and death, and time passed—or rather, time ceased to pass. Day and night, weekdays and Sundays, no longer succeeded one another in the order laid down by the calendar issued by the Icelandic National Society; there was no longer any distinction between one and two. The narrow became broad and the long became short of its own accord and without natural cause; there was no relationship between things. The fever pushed life and all consciousness onto another plane where all measures of time were wiped out, where one did not know what one was nor what one had been nor what one would become, nor what would come next; one was a compound of the greatest dissimilarities of existence, one was God, one was eternity, one was a glowing spark or a strange rhythm, one was the ream or the river or a girl, one was a bay down by the sea and there was a bird, one was the part of the homefield wall that faced the mountain. Events were always incredibly varied, one novelty after another, without rule or logic.

Occasionally he was washed up on the shores of reality, but only for a short spell at a time; he just had time to wonder at how quiet and uneventful everything was in reality. He could not understand how people could live a whole lifetime in this dreary sphere of consciousness called reality, where one thing corresponds to another and night separates the days and everything happens according to the laws of nature, and this is such and such, and that follows this. But fortunately he soon drifted back into the realm of improbability where no one knew what followed which, where nothing corresponded to anything, where everything was possible, particularly the incredible and the incomprehensible. Before he knew it, his being had once again become a welter of hallucination and consolation and lightning flashes and God and release form reality and from human strife and human reason, from life and from death.

But then he opened his eyes one day and it was all over. It was just like waking up in a normal way, the day was like any other day, and there was a tiny patch of sunshine on the rafter above him... He said no more and did not mind not having died. Actually he was a little disappointed, even though that patch of sunshine was on the rafter; the world of perception was unbelievably poor compared with the world of hallucination.”

The Rafter looks upward, waiting for the sun to move. This single spot of sun becomes a golden chariot, baptizing Ólafur into the light of the world. Among the sounds used to compose The Rafter, the “bull roarer” stands out, a musical artifact of prehistoric Scandinavia used to call across great distances. The cover artwork by Heather Gabel includes carvings in the Kivik King’s Tomb in Skåne, Sweden and images of other objects and artifacts found inside.

Three sinister hallucinations – The Fog, The Wind, and The Rafter – are offset by three sigil mantras – Alite, Awdo, and Aweh. While recording The Rafter, Matchess devised the sigil mantra lyrical practice to sublate seeming contradictions (“aufheben” in Hegel and Marx), a merger of Austin Osman Spare’s theory of the sigil with the transcendent mantra of deep meditation. Through the trance-induced repetition of a sentence or phrase, some syllables disappear while others unite, and the resulting sigil mantra is both a unique personal possession and an aspect of universal consciousness. Do you recognize these breaths: Alite, Awdo, Aweh? Have you ever encountered a malicious hallucination? Perhaps under the right conditions, The Rafter can liberate the listener through the guided sigil mantra practice, witnessing a shady reflection of the light of the world.

“When the sign is clarified
the old world light will bring the silence.”
Venue Information:
The Hideout
1354 W. Wabansia Ave
Chicago, IL, 60642
http://www.hideoutchicago.com