“Silence”- Allison Crowe from the sylvan castle on Salt Spring Island, Canada:
Crowe’s musical performance is paired with an excerpt from “Ménilmontant”, the 1925 silent film from auteur, director, Dimitri Kirsanoff and starring his collaborator Nadia Sibirskaia and Yolande Beaulieu as sisters.
A treasure of cinema’s avant-garde, you can find the full (38 minute) movie in the Internet Archive @ archive.org/details/menilmontant1924-25 with commentary by David Badagnani, who notes:
“Its story is told entirely in images, without the use of explanatory intertitles; Kirsanoff was among the very rare filmmakers of the silent era to attempt this. The film makes use of techniques such as montage, hand-held camera, ultra-rapid montage, and superposition to achieve the elusive, transcendent quality of ‘photogenie’ so sought after by the French impressionist film directors of the era. Ménilmontant, thus, comes closer to poetry than to narrative prose.”
“Sylvan Hour is truly a masterpiece” says pioneering culture blog Muruch. (muruch.com/2015/05/allisoncrowe-sylvanhour.html)
Discover this music from a remarkable artist at a personal and creative crossroads in her life. “Sylvan Hour” is an album of songs bridging west and east, piano and guitar, then and now…
For fans of Allison Crowe at her purest, this is voice, one accompanying instrument – one take. Real-time performances in the sequence they’re played and sung by Allison in a log-home on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada.
That afternoon the musician was in the midst of migrating from her birthplace of Nanaimo, BC, on Canada’s Pacific, to a new nest in Corner Brook, NL, on the Atlantic coast. Soon to fly east, Crowe bade farewell to those near and dear on western shores – including compatriot Kayla Schmah on Salt Spring, neighbouring Vancouver Island.
Decades earlier Schmah’s parents had made an epic trek to the Pacific Northwest from Central Canada – in a repurposed donut truck. Planting themselves in the Gulf Islands archipelago, they lived at first in a converted parachute in the woods. From the ground up the home-steaders then built a family dwelling out of Douglas Fir – their “sylvan castle”.
Allison and Kayla, as musicians had shared stages together from their teens onward (and, years later, becoming a film-scorer in Hollywood, Schmah brilliantly orchestrated and produced Crowe’s album “Spiral”.) Among the friends together on SSI this day was Ryan Adams (who, like Schmah was a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music and was en route to becoming an in-demand tv/film audio engineer in Los Angeles).
With mics and a laptop set-up in the living-room, Adams captured this set of the newest songs in Allison’s repertoire – originals including “Skeletons and Spirits”, “Running”, and “Silence” as well as a trio of covers (interpreting songs famously by Joni Mitchell, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Aretha Franklin).
Also gorgeous, but differently so, essentially group versions of most of these songs were released near the end of that same year (2006) on Allison Crowe’s album “This Little Bird” (the title track a celebration of her migration). “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” is the sole sylvan session recording released before – it’s presented now within the full hour of music for all time.
Enjoy this most natural of talents – in this most natural of settings.