North Star Deserter
DescriptionWe have been massive Vic Chesnutt fans for many years. Prior to starting Constellation together in 1997, among the first records we bonded over was Is The Actor Happy, a slab of vinyl played so often (and so often late at night) that its grooves are well chewed. Our friend, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Jem Cohen (Benjamin Smoke, Instrument, Chain), had known Vic for many years. When Jem proposed that Vic make his this album at the Hotel2Tango studio in Montreal, with various Constellation musicians (along with a couple of American friends) as players for the session, we were thrilled. When we heard the results, we were floored. When offered the opportunity to release the record, we were honoured.
Vic Chesnutt was one of the finest songsmiths we have ever known. His words knock us out, his voice is like no other, and the two combined can deliver lyrical phrases that echo in your brain for weeks, months, years…that you find yourself adding to your quotidian vocabulary of sardonic asides, devastating metaphors, witty rhymes. Words that are never clever for their own sake, but smart and substantive as all get out.
The songs on North Star Deserter are some of the most bracing and intense we had yet heard from Vic: macabre and fearless, playful and funny, at times deeply personal and at others, incongruously hopeful. The broad cast of players – all seven members of Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, along with Guy Picciotto (Fugazi), Chad Jones & Nadia Moss (Frankie Sparo), Eric Craven & Genevieve Heistek (Hangedup), Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Esmerine) and T. Griffin (The Quavers) – offered influences and approaches to Vic’s music that yielded a record unlike any other in his substantial discography.
Recorded over the winter of 2006-2007, at one of the last sessions to take place at the original Hotel2Tango location in Montreal (the studio moved in spring 2007) with Jem overseeing production (along with Efrim and Thierry of Silver Mt Zion, and Guy from Fugazi). Recording was done by Howard Bilerman.
Release date: 27 August 2007 (Europe), 11 September 2007 (rest of world)
Running time: 57:07
Packaging notesCD xxxxxxxxx xxxxx.
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3. Everything I Say
4. Wallace Stevens
5. You Are Never Alone
6. Fodder On Her Wings
8. Rustic City Fathers
Vic Chesnutt: guitar, casio, lyrics, voice
Thierry Amar: contrabasse, electric bass, singing
Howard Bilerman: drums
Bruce Cawdron: bowed vibraphone and glockenspiel
Jem Cohen: field recordings
Eric Craven: skateboardthing
Beckie Foon: cello, singing
Scott Gilmore: drums
T. Griffin: guitar, field recordings
Genevieve Heistek: viola
Ian Ilavsky: singing
Chad Jones: guitar, singing
Efrim Menuck: guitar, piano, harmonium, casio, singing
Jessica Moss: violin, singing
Nadia Moss: organ, piano, singing
Guy Picciotto: guitar, field recordings
Sophie Trudeau: violin
Recorded at Hotel2Tango in Montreal by Howard Bilerman with Efrim Menuck and Thierry Amar, winter 2006-2007. Produced by Jem Cohen with Efrim, Thierry and Guy. Mastered at Grey Market by Harris Newman.