Download the accompanying poetry and photography booklet HERE
Raining Spiderlings is a text and sound art project by Nikolai Galen and Sarmen Almond. Galen is a singer, actor, and writer living in Istanbul; also known as Nick Hobbs, he was the singer in the incredible 1980s post-punk band The Shrubs, for a period roadied for Captain Beefheart and managed Henry Cow, Pere Ubu and Laibach, and has worked in many other contexts from free-improvised music to experimental theater. Almond is a musician, voice performer, and intermedia artist based in Mexico City; she identifies the human voice as a focal point of her work. Superstition, Raining Spiderlings' maiden voyage, features voice and electronics and occasional instruments. Voice with words, sometimes without. The twosome mine a rich zone of comprovisation, an area between composition and improvisation, each track coming together intuitively, iteratively, as files are sent back and forth between the artists from their respective cities, worked and reworked to achieve an optimal level of intrigue. For Superstition, Galen wrote fourteen (let's call it 13 + 1, for evident reasons) texts around the title's loose theme, recording them as performed poems. Some of the poetry ("1492," for instance) started life many years ago and was later revised for the album and some was written after Galen and Almond started work on the project. All the words were rigorously scrutinized and recast before being recorded a dozen or so times, then edited into composites. Galen's recitations include poetical rhythms but no strict, musical rhythms, and they're dramatically recited rather than sung. In the mode of a theatrical or cinematic sound-designer, Almond freely reworked the vocal recordings electronically, carefully editing and placing Galen's voice according to what she calls creative mixing. "Very important point during the production," says Almond. "Each phrase, melody had a special space in the imaginary." Initiated organically, this process of recording, editing, and interweaving led to the resulting album. The title Superstition is borrowed from Panthéâtre's 2021 live-streamed Myth & Theatre Festival of the same name. A video version (https://vimeo.com/565480363) of "Wolves," the last track on the album and the actual germ of the overall project (with a vocal taking some inspiration from the elder Don van Vliet's approach to his spoken poems) was made for this festival. Deep points of reference for Galen include Firesign Theatre and early Zappa, bold pioneers of the riddles of the larynx. Superstition's liner booklet includes original photographs by Galen, an elegant and enigmatic mirror of the sounds on the disc. Among the questions that emerge from Superstition's ominous, atmospheric, sometimes claustrophobic mix of sound and word: is it possible for the meanings of such musical/verbal art to emerge gradually and mysteriously, to eventually unveil their teeming complexity and to remain fluid over repeated listens?
Sarmen Almond – electronics, soundwork and mixing
Nikolai Galen – words, voice and photography
The album title and conceptual idea ‘Superstition’ was lifted, so to speak, from Panthéâtre’s 2021 Myth & Festival of the same name. Galen’s recordings were made at The Attic in Cihangir, Istanbul. Almond’s recordings and the mixing were made at Alquimia Vocal in Mexico City. The texts were mostly written during 2021-22; some have their origins in texts written years ago.
Design: Gulsah Soyluer
Calligraphy: Tasha Birch
Mastering: Zlaya Hadzich (LOUD)