Because you are here, I will first say Thank You. Welcome to the Vanishing Sessions B-Sides Part I! This will be our 6th release, and the third release of 2009. This is a collection of work was inspired by the events of 2004-2009.
Special Guests I would like to thank include:
Read the first review by Trey Spencer!
This might just be a collection of B-Sides and a few re-worked tracks, but it comes together as much more than that.
This has been a pretty productive twelve months for Sarah Fimm. It all started with a little EP called White Birds that hinted at a potential musical transition. Just nine months later that potential became reality in the form of her fourth full-length album, Red Yellow Sun. The big transition that White Birds had only hinted at was the move from electronic-based songs to compositions that relied much more on acoustic guitars and classical instrumentation. Not only did Red Yellow Sun make the transition without any issues, but it also did it so well that the lack of electronics was quickly forgotten about. For most artists an EP and a full album that features a substantial musical adjustment would be enough work for one year, but it turns out that Sarah Fimm isn’t quite finished. It’s been less than three months since the release of Red Yellow Sun, and she is back with The Vanishing Sessions (B-Sides Part 1).
It should be apparent from the title that this isn’t so much a new album as it is a collection of unreleased songs along with a few re-worked tracks from previous albums. The interesting thing is that you’d never think for a moment that anything less than 100% went into the crafting of each of these songs. From the droning synths and haunting vocals of opener “Vanishing” to the gritty rock of “Be Like Water (Acoustic)”, every song is good enough that it could have been featured on one of Sarah’s four albums. In fact, one has to wonder why some of these songs were never used before now. Second track, “Fragile”, is a perfect example with its unique mix of electronics, harp, cello and trip hop beats. This eclectic collection of influences isn’t just limited to individual tracks though; the entire album features an array of inspiration. Over the course of The Vanishing Sessions there’s modern rock, a proggy instrumental that features Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails) and Tony Levin (King Crimson, Liquid Tension Experiment), mellow piano pieces, chill trip-hop and much more – and, amazingly, it all flows together fluidly.
Someone once commented that Sarah likes to freely move between acoustic, rock and electronic music and that her curious nature causes her to try whatever has captured her attention at the time – no album has proven that statement more than this one. Over the course of 14 songs Sarah delivers dark electronic drones, heartfelt piano ballads, a proggy instrumental and some energetic rock. What’s more is that she brings all these styles together in a cohesive way that doesn’t make the listener feel as if they’re listening to something that was haphazardly thrown together. No, as with every other Sarah Fimm release, it’s obvious that a lot of work and dedication went into the creation of this album. Here’s hoping that this assortment of influences continues to capture her attention.
Studio notes ~
This collection of songs was created through a production period in late 2006-2007 primarily. At that time I started working with producer David Baron. David was a co-owner of the Edison Studios in the Hotel Edison in New York. It was an old ballroom converted to a recording studio. The first recordings were done mostly at this studio. The other partners Henry Hirsch and Lenny Kravitz had set up a retro-friendly recording atmosphere. Henry did a lot of the original tracking through his vintage equipment. The studio closed down in early 2008.
David has a house in the Woodstock area. Gradually, he moved his collection of modular synthesizers and recording equipment upstate. I came up to do a lot of recording and eventually moved to Woodstock myself. I find the area to be beautiful and an inspirational place to make music. Woodstock is full of extremely talented artists of all types.
In terms of my music, I wanted to get away from the typical sound of female singer/songwriters. The whole set of circumstances and people around me during this time encouraged me to work more in recording studios and use vintage analog synthesizers and recording gear. Less straight in the box electronic and more experiments in different combinations of live and electronic. Interestingly - as I worked with more colors I felt less barriers between the acoustic, electronic, and orchestral.
Vanishing: I wrote and sang this originally in a closet in New York City. It was very low fidelity and strange - but it had a feeling that could not be reproduced. The original vocal was kept and processed through an old Emu Modular synthesizer. Almost all the effects are created on modular analog synthesizers. The vocal was also doubled by a copy of the vocal that had all the vibrato stripped out creating microtonal doubling. Mark Gemini Thwaite played the atmospheric guitar.
Fragile: Fragile went through many incarnations. At first, it was dry as a bone, and existed only as a creepy soliloquy to insanity. Gradually it became more and more arranged and composed. The harp blended with the electronic programming made a good juxtaposition of sound. This was done after a walk in the mountains behind David’s studio. Every night I would drive home from Dave’s in the freezing cold, and often an owl would fly by in the headlights as I drove over the mountain.
Message: David and I were playing around one day with neoclassical piano playing in his basement. I asked him to set up a mic, and this came together in a short time. It was all written on a brown napkin and this version was created that day.
Be Like Water. This was an existing song that everyone always liked but I wanted to reinvent it to be played by a live band. The main acoustic guitar riff was played by Craig Ross of Lenny Kravitz fame. The drums were played by Jerry Marotta at the now defunkt Allaire studio in Shokan, NY. The background women were lead by Tawatha Agee and were a nod to Gimme Shelter/Dark Side of the Moon.
Scarlet days: This was written most likely on another napkin, but I remember this coming together for the first time in a NYC apartment, after returning home from a summer tour in 2005. It did not make it onto any recording until Dec 09’.
Back to the Earth: I wrote this song while living in the East village years ago. I met a Frenchmen who took photos with his camera. It was originally called “Song for Michele”. The song was resurrected when it was time to record it. Josh came to play at Edison and it created a different emotion. I think I began to sweat from the moment he finished his 3 hot dogs until the moment he was done playing it.
Evolution (Alt): This song was all about the emotional build that evolves out of a single riff. The very first riff was removed after we recorded everything else!
Brighton: The idea was to create a modern psychedelic style. It's the most sixties production on this collection. My friend came over to the Edison Studio and sang backgrounds and played around on the celesta and piano to create those interesting textures. Michael Flynn, of Slow Runner, came to guest in NYC. I knew Michael from years ago in Boston. He is a true poet, and I have always been a huge admirer of his writing.
Tamara Song (Alt Mix): Originally this song was very electronic and it got transformed. This is the original electronic version.
Crumbs and Broken Shells: This was written on my mothers acrosonic piano years ago. This song also went through many different types of existence, but ultimately, this version ended up being the one that shines to me, as the original.
Be Like Water (DB Alt): This version was more in the electronica/downtempo style. The vocal comes from the original version so it's really more of a remix. The high squeaky sound is a big Moog Modular synthesizer from 1967. The riff sound is a Roland System 700...those are geeky notes from David.
Evolution (alt. Mix): This mix was done by David Baron, and had a different feeling than the version featured earlier on the disk. I liked it so much I decided it had to go on.
So Much (Instrumental): The song "So Much" started as a chant. While in the Edison Studios in Manhattan we performed this as you hear it. I particularly like hearing Josh Freese with Tony Levin in this raw setting.
Be Like Water (Acoustic): This version always felt the most live to me. However, I feel Tawatha Agee and Cindy Mizelle really brought this to life. I remember singing with them at Edison. Two truly skilled vocalists I was lucky to have that day.
Enjoy the Music and my deepest wish to you for a peaceful, and happy new year!