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  • Sara Kuefler

tower & celestial ep's - by hermitess


When you interpret the world, our place within it, and our interactions with each other, how many dimensions do you see? Does your interpretation of each of these feel linear, or perhaps like interlocking blocks that create a structure? Artistically Hermitess' analysis of these aspects of life feels kaleidoscopic - colours, emotions, relationships shifting and melding, but always in concert with one another, forming intricate patterns.


In an act of bravery, or perhaps in response to the artistic need creators feel to express their experience no matter their surroundings or circumstances, Hermitess has released two EP's during the chaos that is 2020. The first, named Tower, came out this Summer, with its compliment, Celestial, following in October. Considering that artists are severely hindered in touring or playing in support of releases currently, it should be appreciated when they are still willing to put out music. For certain folks, like myself, it has made a world of difference to have new releases to discover in the absence of live shows.


Jennifer Crighton, the multi-disciplinary artist behind Hermitess, has an ability to pull in many elements when executing her vision. She is a harpist, singer, songwriter, visual artist, and curator. So, it follows that she has conceived a thematic concept that allows her to connect the physical, the visual and the musical. The physical item, of which I speak, and a connection point for the subject matter of the two EP's is a set of tarot cards. With an image on each card designed by different independent artists, they serve to supply a download code for each of Hermitess' releases on bandcamp, but more than this, they symbolize the intention behind the releases. Crighton has plans to expand this deck of cards with each future release, which is a lovely way to create a collectible series, and to connect her work and that of the visual artists involved. Thus far the deck spans three cards as she has produced one for her self-titled 2017 album also.


As explained on Hermitess' bandcamp page, the Tower card in tarot, "depicts an elaborate structure built to fulfil lofty aims, but resting precariously on a foundation that has proven unstable, from which characters will fall in a fiery conflagration. The interpretation of the card is the moment of epiphany precipitated by a crisis, or critical shift in perspective that exposes an underlying instability of one’s elevated ideals."


The three track Tower EP was recorded during Autumn of 2019, at the National Music Centre, and explores the warped or constructed reality that the electronic age of communication and social media has created. It poses the suggestion that this crystalline structure we have built may seem beautiful but is fragile and precipitous. The realness, or substantiveness of human connection has been thinned to a degree that true connection may be lost. I do not believe that Crighton could have predicted the crisis that was to come by the time of the EP's release, but it does eerily feel that way as Covid has thrown into sharp relief the anguish and loss of the ability to connect in some of those physical, non-electronic ways. We sometimes do not understand the importance of something until it is taken away from us.


The first track off of Tower, "Still City", embodies the loneliness of this year with an accompanying haunting multiple exposure video set in the midnight dark alleyway behind The Palomino – a beloved music venue. Hermitess, or Crighton, is shown moving through this space while singing, with floating shots of skyrise windows passing through and around her. Devoid of people but herself, these nearly deserted images again call up the severe isolation, even amidst the setting of downtown, that Covid has brought. There is something needed by human beings that cannot be replicated by the visage provided by social media, as the next two songs, "Spell", and "Followers" note through lyrics such as "ghost", "spell", "cage", "lonesome", and "greive". You can feel the dissonance in the percussion, lyrical repetition, and cadence contained in these tracks.


Celestial, being recorded in the Spring and Summer of 2020, in the thick of the first wave of Covid isolation measures, begins with the track "Phone Call", which describes the challenges of connecting over long distances. "Celestial Bodies", sung like a lullaby and a chant combined, becomes a more soothing follow up to the distress contained in the former, as it reminds us that we are a part of the universe. Hermitess then brings the two notions together in the third track. "Artificial Stars", pairs the dichotomy of stargazing in days past, while sharing physical space with someone special, against the notion of "artificial stars" in the present time watching us from the sky in the form of satellites. The EP closes with an instrumental track, titled "Space Walk I: Spooky Action at a Distance" which is both ethereal and deep via the graceful harp and spine-tingling pedal steel. While Tower has a sense of prophecy about it, Celestial is a meditation and a seeking of bearings during our current exceptional times.


These beautiful new EP's can be found on Bandcamp at:


https://hermitess.bandcamp.com/


And you can visit Hermitess at:


http://www.hermitess.band/


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