Following critically acclaimed performances of their musical theater piece Persephone, Mimi Goese & Ben Neill unveil Songs for Persephone August 30 on Ramseur Records. Songs for Persephone highlights Goese's vocal and performance style-which Rolling Stone likens to "eloquent sonic ballet"-as well as for Neill's performance on his self-designed mutantrumpet, "a schizophrenic trumpet [used] to create art music for the people (WIRED)." The pair are set to celebrate their album's release with a performance at the Joe's Pub Summer Salon Series at the Cooper Square Hotel Penthouse on September 27. Tickets are available at http://www.joespub.com/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,40/id,5790.
Goese and Neill are now premiering their video for the track "Stargazer," featuring footage from the multimedia theater piece. It can be streamed at http://www.mimigoeseandbenneill.com/.
The album pulls together the music the duo composed for their multimedia work, which premiered at Brooklyn Academy Of Music's Next Wave Festival in 2010. New York Magazine describes Persephone as "Abstract, hexagonal, world-beat songs...If Baz Lurhmann and Laurie Anderson got stoned listening to late-night college-radio electro-pop, Persephone is what they'd hallucinate." The New York Times praises the music as "shimmery electro-pop songs sung by Ms. Goese in a throaty voIce That recalls Kate Bush and a number of other alt-radio goddesses." Meanwhile Variety calls the score "hypnotic."
Inspired by the expressive possibilities of new technology as well as the natural beauty of New York's Hudson Valley and the Hudson River School of painting, Goese and Neill started with a fragment of a different 19th century Romantic piece as the foundation for each of their songs. The songs reflect the increasing influence of classical music in the work of contemporary artists including The National, Sufjan Stevens and the Decemberists. Continuing this sensibility, Goese and Neill reference Mahler, Berlioz, Bruckner, and others of the Romantic era to create a new form of lyricism that is contemporary yet colored with the dynamics and patina of the old music filtered through digital processing.
Goese and Neill were commissioned by BAM to create the staged work Persephone with multimedia company Ridge Theater. Persephone co-starred actress Julia Stiles with book by Tony award winning playwright Warren Leight, and grew out of the 19th-century themes that Goese and Neill were exploring in the music.
The record will be released in various formats including a limited edition, one-of-a-kind package co-designed by the artists with visual artist Simon Draper. The concept for the package is taken from the lyrics to the song "A Lovely Goodbye" and is made using primarily recycled materials. It can be hung on the wall as an artwork after removing the USB key with all of the media. Customized packages that incorporate fans' designs will also be available. The complete media set includes film from the BAM production by Bill Morrison as well other video material and instrumental music that is not included on the CD.
Goese is known as the lead singer/co-songwriter of Hugo Largo, the critically acclaimed minimalist punk/pop group who released two albums on Brian Eno's Opal label in the '80s. After touring with musician/producer Hector Zazou and co-writing/singing on the Moby album Everything is Wrong, Goese's solo album Soak was released by Luaka Bop, David Byrne's label.
Neill is a composer, performer, producer, and inventor of the mutantrumpet, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument. He has recorded eight CDs of his music on labels including Universal/Verve, Thirsty Ear, Astralwerks and Six Degrees. His most recent CD Night Science was released in 2009 on Thirsty Ear.