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20-yr-old Mal VU recording of Black Swan on Bandcamp

Mal VU

It’s the 20th anniversary of this Mal VU recording of Black Swan. The text is from an opera by Carlo Menotti about a fictive medium who makes her living pretending to contact the dead. During a fake seance, she feels a spectral hand gripping her throat and freaks out. She blames the mute servant boy (don’t we all?) who wasn’t even in the room. Her daughter calms her down by singing this super creepy, Jungian, Wagnerian, dark mythic lullaby.

I'd sung this aria while studying voice and the words stuck with me—haunted me, actually. The melody though wasn’t suited to my voice at that age. I’d heard deeper, maturer voices relay this melody better though that didn’t fit the character. The whole song seems out of place but then perhaps the opera was written to be a modern crowdpleaser and these were sprinkles of depth…or at least of symbolism. Like the daughter understood the extra-sensory, mercurial, psychic aspect of her mother and used these words as portals into the portent fields where her mother’s torn anima had footing. And that leading her there and spared both her mother and the mute boy from upset. Or I just missed the performance where a light soprano crushed it.

Anyway, I was working at a jingle house in Chicago and learning everything I could through some very talented engineers. They’d promoted me to part-time tracking engineer and gave me the key to the studio with the blessing of going there on off hours to create music and work on engineering. So this was an early Mal VU song. Darrin Brown played most of the instrumentation of this song while I worked on the other side of the glass. I think we started by letting the recording roll while improvising guitar and vocals. The words were in my head but this melody came from wrapping itself around the guitar. Then we methodically filled in the songs. We all got very very good at this over time.

Happy 20th anniversary of this unreleased recording. It's so hard to see my babies leave the nest and brave the cold material world. And unmastered to boot. I've a few more tracks ready to upload, including the cult classic, Halloween song, Graveman, going up in October. Wanted to set these to only stream but that is no longer an option on Bandcamp. Going to try to slowly release all of the Mal VU catalog though it’s an overwhelming amount of material and it is already hard to find time for new material with work and life and all. Like brainiacs, we added video onto our to-do list. Right now After-Death Plan is focused on four new tracks and is largely fussing over the specifics for an ambitious video for a song called "Gone Is The Day." DIY, baby. It's all about the journey.

Happy 20th anniversary to Black Swan. Enjoy. Here’s the link and the lyrics:

Black Swan

The sun has fallen and it lies in blood

The moon is weaving bandages of gold

Old Black Swan where has my lover gone

I had given him a kiss of fire

And a golden ring

With silver needles and with silver thread

The stars stitch a shroud for the dying sun

Old Black Swan where has my lover gone

Torn and tattered is my bridal crown

And my map is lost

Don't you hear your lover moan

Eyes of glass and feet of stone

Shells for teeth and weeds for tongue

Deep deep down in the river bed

He's looking for the ring

The spools unravel and the needles break

The sun is buried and the stars weep

Oh black wave, keep me away with you

I will show you my golden hair

And my bridal crown

Take me home with you

With my child unborn

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