Friday, May 26, 2017

Fiver presents Audible Songs From Rockwood @ St. Matthew's United Church on Friday; Array Space on Saturday

Simone Schmidt performs songs inspired by the stories of women inmates at Kingston's Rockwood Asylum. 

Simone Schmidt, aka Fiver, is a Toronto-based musician working within the frame of traditional North American folk music. Her latest album Audible Songs From Rockwood is a series of eleven fictional field recordings, gathered from case files of patients at the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane between 1854-1881.

The rigour of Schmidt’s writing process is shown through the work: Over the course of two years, Schmidt researched the asylum's primary documents – patient files, architectural diagrams, superintendents' diaries –  spinning her findings into historical fiction and, from there, into song. The voices on the record are crafty, witty, evasive, despondent, and lucid. Audible Songs From Rockwood shapes its subject matter with wit, optimism, sadness, and even joy. Using an acoustic sonic pallet and working with some local heavies in the old time folk tradition – John Showman, Max Heineman, Chris Coole, Kristine Schmidt – and highly skilled instrumentalists – cellist Cris Derksen and Blood Ceremony's Alia O’Brien  – the performances gives voice to  people living in the margins of history.

The album is accompanied by a book created by fictional ethnomusicologist, Simone Carver, written in the style of the liner notes of Smithsonian Folkways compilations.  It includes lyrics and supplemental information about the historical context of the inmates and their songs along with original artwork by Darby Milbraith, Geneva Hailey, Jennifer Castle, Jeff Bierk and Julianna Neufeld. The package carries questions about the archive as an apparatus of colonial power, definitions of sanity and criminality, and the early settler-colonial agenda foundational to those modes of thought still operating in today’s carceral system. Watch the mini-documentary shot by Colin Medley followed by Meg Remy's video for the song Mouser. Audible Songs From Rockwood is available in various formats from idée fixe records which you can get right here.

Fiver is at St. Matthew's United Church (729 St. Clair West) Friday at 7:30pm (now sold out);
also at Array Space (155 Walnut Ave) Saturday at 9:30pm, $15.

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