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Aqualude

by Dana Lyn

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about

Brooklyn-based violinist, pianist and composer Dana Lyn is a musician of diverse accomplishment – but her creativity is restless, questing. She has enjoyed a niche as a go-to instrumentalist for top artists in genres from traditional folk to indie-rock. This includes singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III hiring her to lace the old-time country of his Grammy Award-winning 2009 album High, Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, as well as the Irish-American supergroup Cherish the Ladies having her play and provide arrangements for their PBS special and live CD/DVD An Irish Homecoming. Lyn has appeared on Saturday Night Live and the Conan O’Brien Show, while bands from the Walkmen to Florence & the Machine have tapped her for recordings and concerts. But Lyn has a constant drive to experiment, whether it’s with music in the theater and the concert hall or her own recording projects. She was a key contributor to Ethan Hawke’s off-Broadway production of Clive – see her accompanying Hawke singing in character for this New York Times video. The edgy classical quartet Brooklyn Rider commissioned Lyn to compose Maintenance Music, a work to be included on their forthcoming album A Brooklyn Almanac. She is collaborating with actor-writer Vincent D’Onofrio on a recording for 2014 in which she sets his spoken-word journal “oddities” to music. Then there’s her second solo album – Aqualude, an instrumental story of the sea that’s as playful as it is tuneful – which Ropeadope Records will release on Oct. 15, 2013.

Aqualude sees Lyn joined by several fellow Brooklyn musicians, including guitarist Jonathan Goldberger (of folk-jazz trio Surface to Air), multi-genre cellist Clara Kennedy and jazzers clarinetist Mike McGinnis and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza – a quintet that Lyn has led at such hip New York venues as Barbes and iBeam. The album echoes with strains of neo-folk, avant-rock and contemporary classical (listen here), but the music also works as a soundtrack to a folk-like narrative that Lyn has written, one that incorporates her extra-musical fascination with the marine world and its inhabitants.

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released October 15, 2013

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Track Name: Carping
Glaciers are melting. Where there had been ice for millions of years, there is now flora, fauna and in some places, fast-moving rivers. A young boy is trying to cross such a river when a large silver carp violently propels itself out of the water, followed by another and another. Soon the river is alive with jumping carp, and the boy finds himself dodging the trajectories of dozens of flying fish. Unfortunately, an airborne carp wallops the boy on the side of his head, knocking him unconscious, tumbling him headlong into the river (rather, into a sinkhole.
Track Name: Mother Octopus
The boy awakes. He is lying on a large slab of rock surrounded by water in what appears to be an underground cavern. It is completely dark. He feels something tickling his left foot and catches a glimpse of a glowing white tentacle. It motions, beckoning him closer, before slithering back into the watery depths. The boy sits up with a start and peers into the water to see a large pigment-less octopus holding a curiously shaped branch. He also sees that it is guarding dozens and dozens of tiny eggs. The octopus extends the branch to the boy, and the eggs begin to hatch.
Track Name: Aqualude I
As the boy cups the branch in his hand, he feels a shortness of breath and an odd sensation of weightlessness traveling through his body. Without thinking, he dives into the water. He is surprised to learn that not only can he swim, he does not need to come up for air.
Track Name: Queequeg
He is swimming fast now. The cavern seems to extend for miles and he is worried that he may not find his way out. At a turning, he sees a whitish glow out of the corner of his eye, and upon further inspection he sees that it is a human skull! The boy is suddenly apprehensive and changes direction; thankfully not much time passes before he sees an opening in the distance. He pushes ahead at an even faster pace, but just as he swims through the opening, he finds himself face to face with an enormous white whale, its coat leathery with age and pockmarked with large scars. In a flash, the whale noses the boy onto its back, and grabbing on for dear life, he is hurtled thousands of feet down toward the ocean floor.
Track Name: Yeti Crab Theme Song
The whale lands the boy on the ocean floor, some 8000 feet below sea level. There are distant rumblings, vibrations he can feel through his entire body. The scene that is unfolding in front of him is truly incredible… eyeless shrimp, translucent jellyfish, giant water snails, 12-foot long tube worms, all glowing eerily, writhing and feeding, birthing and dying. The boy realizes that the surface that he is lying on is actually moving; it is not the ocean floor at all, but a virtual carpet of blind white crustaceans, covered with stiff white fur.
Track Name: Aqualude II
The carpet of yeti crabs accelerate their pace through the frenzy of gastropods, cephalopods, crustaceans, annelids and pogonophorans, and gently deliver the boy at the foot of what appears to be a large fissure in the ocean floor.
Track Name: Pyramid
The boy stands at the edge of the fissure, still clutching the branch that the octopus had given him. The temperature is uncomfortably warm, and the vapors being released from the fissure are even warmer. The rumblings have grown more ominous in volume and frequency and are now like peals of thunder. He is shocked to see that there are also large man-made machines, piloted by automatons. What could they possibly be doing there? He feels faint, and at that moment, the vent erupts like a geyser, and the sheer force of it propels him backs to sea level, just before the magic of the octopus’ branch wears off.
Track Name: The Snow Is General
The boy takes in a deep breath of air, and slowly swims back to land. It has begun to snow. The snowfall increases but is silent despite its dramatic flurries, and all of the land is blanketed a soft white. A welcome sight to the boy, this is, although he is aware that it is only snow… not ice, as it should be, in these northern climes. He trudges onward, and the snow continues to fall.
Track Name: Aqualude III
At some point late in the night, the boy arrives at camp and is greeted by his family members, who have been beside themselves with worry. He produces the magical branch and it is passed around to all of his relatives. No words are spoken.
Track Name: Yeti Sleeps
The boy tosses and turns in its sleep. Visions of endless caverns, giant whales, fantastical sea-creatures and underwater volcanoes haunt him. And machines… what about the machines? Were they really there? It had been so dark, and so hot. Could it all have been a figment of his imagination? It just didn’t make sense. And so on and on through each hour of the night, in a cold sweat, with a gut feeling that there is still something to be accomplished, that there is a greater program at work, a greater good to be achieved…