Non Credo is the Los Angeles based duo of multi-instrumentalists Joseph Berardi and Kira Vollman. She’s a singer, he’s a drummer, but their musical palette extends well beyond the scope of their primary instruments. Clarinets, marimbas, accordions, cellos, broken down keyboards, cheap electronics, altered children’s toys and anything else that falls into their path are utilized. Nothing is sacred, nothing is wasted. Layering sounds and textures, they create enchanting songs and evocative moods in the seclusion of their studio, Zauberklang. Kira’s voice displays a remarkable range, both tonally and emotionally, and their musical landscape is equally far-reaching. From gothic thriller to film noir haze to disturbed fairy tale, their audience is led on a journey with many detours and dark alleys along the way. Colorful characters inhabit their world, telling tales of the mundane elements of everyday life...greed, lust, hatred, crippling fear. You are never sure where this journey will lead, but be prepared to get seasick, beaten up, thrown in jail, fall in love, contract an STD, have your heart broken, your wallet stolen, get shanghaied, hog tied and crucified.
Non Credo’s debut LP, “Reluctant Hosts”, was released in 1988 by No Man’s Land, the German affiliate of Recommended Records, and re-released on CD in 2000. In 1995 they released “Happy Wretched Family” on the noted Canadian label, Les Disques Victo. They have also appeared on several CD compilations in Europe and the USA, and have composed music for film, radio, dance and performance pieces. Their powerful live performances, which mix song with improvisation, have been presented in galleries, theatres, museums and rock clubs, and they have played New Music festivals in USA, Canada (Musique Actuelle) and Europe.
Non Credo’s influences are wide and varied. They draw from all styles and eras of music, from contemporary experimental forms to Saturday morning cartoons to film scores to pygmy war chants. But they can be equally excited by a page from Edward Gorey, a B movie full of smoke and fog, a twisted Bruegel landscape or an overheard conversation in a late-night diner. Improvisation can act as a springboard for their compositions, but they always pay close attention to their keen sense of structure. Their improvs usually take the form of “instant compositions”, rather than freeform ramblings.
“What we have is a very strange sort of miniature classical music by people who are uninhibited in their use of electric instruments and the studio.” – RUBBERNECK 22
“The deeper you wander into the album, the more firmly Non Credo’s nightmare vision grips you.” – KEYBOARD MAGAZINE
“Non Credo is truly the thinking person’s dysfunctional duo.” - MODERN DRUMMER MAGAZINE
“Art music that resonates like the lonely echoes of clown feet in a Potsdamer Platz alleyway.” – Nels Cline / New Music Monday.
“Music that moves from clever cartoonish bits to modern parlor/chamber music a la ZNR or a lighter Univers Zero.” – OPTION
“The Edward Gorey of music.” - LA READER
Non Credo – “Reluctant Hosts”
(No Man’s Land, nml 8814, 2000, CD)
One of my most longed-for dream reissues finally makes it to digital! Only about 12 years late but that’s ok; I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I had almost given up though… but it was certainly worth the wait. Reluctant Hosts was originally released on LP in the late 80’s by the same label as that who here resurrects it. Even a quick listen will convince one that Non Credo are a cosmic singularity if there ever was one- art music of the highest standard, presented in song form, by a Los Angeles-based duo of truly gifted and inspired musical alchemists who do turn their raw materials to gold. Where Non Credo particularly leaves others in the dust, is in Kira Vollman’s vocal ability. Robust, resonant and full-bodied, it could never be mistaken for the kind of diaphanous nasal whine that too often characterizes American female singers, especially common in this particular genre. The operatic quality she brings to Non Credo adds a dimension that is usually missing from experimental music. If I didn’t know better I’d likely pinpoint them as Swedish, French, or Dutch. Instrumentally, Kira and her partner Joe Berardi (no slouch himself), cover all the necessary battery needed to paint the mischievous and wickedly clever portraits framed by the Non Credo spirit: (she) voice, bass, clarinet; (he) percussion, cello, accordion. Both of them ass keyboards as well, coloring in the details of 12 musical figurines that briskly wisk you through a guided amusement park tour inhabited by strange denizens and spooky imagery. The music is witty, flawlessly executed, and exuberant, even where it detours into darker realms. In addition, they added 12 more songs that were composed for soundtrack works – not included on the LP. We covered Non Credo’s second album (Happy Wretched Family) about five issues back, and it’s even better than Reluctant Hosts. Both are definitely recommended items. – Mike Ezzo / EXPOSÉ Magazine