PHOTO CREDIT : Colin Medley // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Over the past few years, Jonas Bonnetta has used the time in between touring and performing as Evening Hymns to record his first full-length ambient album, All This Here. The record began as the score to the documentary film Strange And Familiar: Architecture On Fogo Island which follows the story and construction of the Fogo Island Inn and a series of artist studios on the island designed by architect Todd Saunders. “I was given a bunch of footage from the production company to put music to and was really drawn to that desolate landscape and Saunders' architecture,” says Bonnetta. “It still feels like a dream project to me. Getting these images from the filmmakers and being totally free as far as music goes. I'd put the landscape footage on loop and just play with sounds in my studio, trying to match the pace of that place. I wanted the music to float. There was so much water footage in the film and I really wanted to have some connection to that.”
All This Here sounds like a record of dawn and dusk, of light that frets at the edge of the day. The album finds field recordings from the coast of Fogo Island echoing throughout the record, horns which glisten into strings or shimmer apart into the rumble of surf. Forlorn murmerings suggest some alloy of whalesong and cello, while particles of recorded footfalls collide in the vacuum of wind or woodwind and cold, watery piano tones.
The recordings were captured partly in and around an artist cabin perched over the ocean on Fogo, on the Easternmost tip of Canada, and partly at Bonnetta’s Ontario countryside home studio, with the help of Anne Müller (Nils Frahm, Agnes Obel) and Mika Posen (Timber Timbre, Agnes Obel) on strings, and mastering by Philip Shaw Bova (Feist, The Belle Orchestre).
Today, Bonnetta is sharing “Little Seldom”, a song which gets its name from a town on Fogo Island, as do all of the tracks on All This Here. “I had wanted to capture the pulse of the water around Fogo Island and also wanted to make sure that there was an element of fiddle music on the soundtrack,” says Bonnetta. “I scored out all of the violin sections and then went to Ottawa to track the strings with my friend Mika Posen. We set up my mobile recording equipment in the living room of her parent's magical house and spent an afternoon tracking the strings for a few songs on the record. Her parents had this amazingly deep collection of folk music that we were able to sift through including a bunch of LP's of Newfoundland fiddle music. I still really hear all of that on this recording.”
The writing process often began with field recordings; a dog barking in the distance, footsteps in the snow, a microphone hung in a juniper bush in the wind, the icy waves rolling up against the rocks outside the Fogo Island studio. A process which Bonnetta compares to type of foraging, a hunt for treasures in the forest, then assembling the fragments into a vision of something stubbornly pure.
“Once I had those pieces collaged together I'd start composing over top with the piano at the Inn or in my little saltbox house with synthesizers, electronics, and pedals, letting the field recordings act as a spirit guide to the pieces,” says Bonnetta. “I'd work into the night and typically wander down to the Inn for a nightcap with the bartender Donnie. Long recording and editing sessions were broken up by reading Michael Crummey's Hard Light poems and R. Murray Schafer's amazing book The Tuning Of The World, whose property I lived on for a couple summers.”
The result of Bonnetta’s time capturing the architecture and environment of Fogo Island is something that feels more found than constructed, a buried memory recovered whole, embedded with sounds from the island and music inspired by that beautiful place. Currents merged into a single, sprawling field recording, a map of physical and emotional landscapes in superposition. Each tidal movement flows into the next, and arrangements wash themselves away, slowly exposing the haunted, haunting spirit of a place that exists only for a moment.
Bonnetta will celebrate the release of All This Here with a special performance at The Drake in Toronto on May 27. Joining Bonnetta on stage will be Edwin Huizinga (Tafelmusik, Yo Yo Ma, Wooden Sky), Mika Posen (Timber Timbre, Agnes Obel), and Adam Saikely (Acorn, Telecomo). Tickets for the show are available here. More performance dates will be announced shortly.
ALL THIS HERE TRACKLIST
02 Deep Bay
03 Interlude I
04 Little Seldom
05 Interlude II
08 Island Harbour
09 Tilting (Evening)
10 Interlude III
11 Stag Harbour
12 Interlude IV
13 Little Fogo
14 Interlude V
15 Joe Batt’s Arm
16 Fogo (Evening)