Adrianne Lenker – “anything”
Adrianne Lenker quarantine album(s) incoming!
Lenker, the singer-guitarist from Big Thief, is one of those artists for whom holing up in a cabin to make a solo album while the world is on lockdown makes perfect sense. Turns out Lenker made not one but two LPs during her stint at a rented home in the mountains of Western Massachusetts this past April. Sounds like she gave Bon Iver’s For Emma origin story a run for its money: “I was basically lying in the dirt half the time,” Lenker writes in a note announcing the new projects. “We went with the flow. A lot of the focus was on getting nourishment from our meals. We cooked directly on the woodstove, and we went on walks to the creek every day to bathe.”
In October Lenker will release her third and fourth solo albums, songs and instrumentals. As you might surmise, she sings on songs (which comprises 11 tracks of conventional song length) and does not sing on instrumentals (which comprises two unconventionally long wordless tracks). Both were tracked with help from engineer Philip Weinrobe, using tape machines and a binaural head and taking advantage of the unique acoustics of the space. These two records are Lenker’s first solo releases since 2018’s abysskiss, though of course her band released two remarkable albums in 2019. The woman is prolific.
Along with today’s announcement, Lenker is sharing “anything,” the extremely pretty lead single from songs. Listen below.
Here’s Lenker’s story about the genesis of these albums:
It was early March 2020 and the Big Thief tour had just been cut short, so I flew from Europe to NYC. It just so happened that there was a little cabin available for rent right next door to Zoe and Brian in the mountains in Western MA. So I grabbed my truck and drove out to the country. As I settled into the cabin over the course of a month, I grew really connected to the space itself. The one room cabin felt like the inside of an acoustic guitar — it was such a joy to hear the notes reverberate in the space. I got a hankering to capture it, so I called my friend Phil and asked “How’d you like to get outta the city and make a record that sounds like the inside of an acoustic guitar?” Phil said “100%” and by the grace of some of our dear friends, we were able to gather the materials needed. Brendan lent us about 45 tape machines. Eli lent us a binaural head (which looked remarkably like Phil), and Shahzad lent us a pile of XLR cables. I drove into the city at 5am on the 20th of April, scooped up Phil and then we filled my truck to the brim as we stopped and gathered the gear along the way back to Massachusetts.
We unloaded all of the equipment into the small cabin and began setting up. Unfortunately, one of the first things that happened was the unstable electricity fried four of our tape machines, including the Otari 8 track. Bill tried to fix it at his shop in Sturbridge, but it was beyond repair.
After almost three weeks of setup and troubleshooting, the studio finally was operating — although the only functioning tape recorder we had was Phil’s battery powered Sony Walkman. We felt at peace with the idea that we might just be recording the whole record on cassette tape, but that would have meant no overdubs, so I’m grateful for the rescue Otari 8 Track that Brendan was able to dig out of storage and deliver to us right before we had lost all hope.
I had a handful of songs that I was planning on recording, but by the time Phil arrived I was on a whole new level of heartsick and the songs were flying through my ears. I was basically lying in the dirt half the time. We went with the flow. A lot of the focus was on getting nourishment from our meals. We cooked directly on the woodstove, and we went on walks to the creek every day to bathe.
Nine of these songs were written freshly during the recording session. We began and closed each day with an improvised acoustic guitar instrumental, and we made a collage of our favorite pieces, which became the first side of the instrumentals album.
I’m grateful that this music has come into existence. These songs have helped me heal. I hope that at least in some small way this music can be a friend to you.
Here’s the songs artwork and tracklist:
01 “two reverse”
04 “forwards beckon rebound”
05 “heavy focus”
06 “half return”
08 “zombie girl”
09 “not a lot, just forever”
10 “dragon eyes”
11 “my angel”
And the instrumentals artwork and tracklist:
01 “music for indigo”
02 “mostly chimes”
songs and instrumentals are out 10/23 on 4AD. Pre-order them here.