Cascadia

by Noe Venable

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1.
Howl to the eternal wind I howl to the undivided sea oh the agony of separation oh the agony I spoke to the almighty wind I called to the undivided sea oh the agony of separation oh the agony Where is my garden out of time? we had one face, we had one name in restless spirals of attention were we one and were the same as the undying wind same as every shore and every shell as if in us the world awakened to look at last upon itself Oh, have I a hunger to arise escape my size and lose my name and every hour of inattention al the vestiges of shame rain will come to wash the castles down waves to throw the fish over the sea rain is pouring down in exaltation rain pours down on me I’ve known the world of lights and fences every animal’s afraid I have known pain and subjugation in a word, within a frame and so I whisper to you, love my other heart, my only trust this is my one purification wash my body from the dust to wash my body from the dust Plant the garden in the world
2.
3.
Goldenrod 05:00
4.
They say she lives here somewhere where, they do not know when storms jangle the valley she wears a robe of snow they say she lives here somewhere for the soul on foot to find and makes her morning rounds leaning on a cane of pine And if she lives here somewhere then all of this she sees, from spring’s remembered beetles to the last bones of the trees– the owl in the twilight, the hour that lifts your eyes from the question in your pocket to the wandering of the light And as I behold the autumn’s fiery eyes beholding me there are times when they must see her other times they must see me are we one and are we only like a wind moves through the world? like a God moves in its garden to become the hidden word When the autumn smells of ashes where your feet have left the road when the road is just a memory and the future just a word when all that is of value lies hidden in the world I lie down beside the river to become the hidden God
5.
Far across the skies of gold clouds will slide clouds do scroll all of these things come and go while water carves the mountain water carves the mountain Water, water– mystery! drawing mazes in the rock arcing through the trees on and on I followed your streams how yielding you seem yet shape this dream of centuries Oh, it’s gonna take a long, long time it may feel like the world is slowly dying but in the mountains of my mind I can feel there’s a new world softly winding winding Softly you sing with the will of the wildest ocean, rushing gushing in your rain fed streams clean and wild I mean one sweet drink in the mouth of another lover lying on your banks of green and when it may seem all our striving may come to nothing struggling up against their fears set free remind me– “Just as water carves the mountain we will move this stone. Just as stone gives way to water it will move, it will move.”
6.
Song for Dan 04:24
Dan, If you can hear me let me know I never got to say farewell, oh Dan how swiftly all of this goes by now visions of your thread-cut life become my mothers hand to hold become my lover’s eyes so old Beauty out and beauty in forget all you know about it years ago and years again I’ll find you in the world I’ll find you inside a baby’s waking eyes outside a crow flies high carry wide, wide these dreams, these prayers, his soul, his life Beauty out and beauty in forget all you know about it years ago and years again I’ll find you in the world Beauty in and beauty out water comes to drink the ground mountains rise and years like whales and find you in the world Dan, if you have flown I understand If you have found your wingspan again. . .
7.
Take my life, a small sip of eternity this is how the thimble taught the bird to drink stars will die but oceans live their lives in me all of my life All my loves, how one by one I drank their names all our lives like lights upon a single string in the rain one or another held my hand all of my life Beloved, return me to my innocence carrying the honey of experience for the friend I have been missing all of my life all of my life Take my life and tell it with your laughing words all of our lives, like feathers on a rising bird all of the time, I was possessed of all the world all of my life Beloved return me to my innocence carrying the honey of experience for the friend I have been missing all of my life all of my life Horns of life and music in my champing hooves pound through time and die the way that oceans move stars will die and none of this is what I love all of my life stars will die and all of this is what I love stars will die
8.
Dans mes rêves. . . Hold fast to me hold fast that you may see high climbs the wall long gone, the creatures of the fall loud shouts the gun long gone, the feather and the quill long have I run long will be running still. . . And as we ride the dream mare cries all life is falling from her eyes all life is falling from her eyes the world so precious and so wild they were so precious and so wild Look there, the dream mare cantering through the rocks and clover look there, the dream mare black as the galaxy above her wild as a blooming rose come and we go, the ones that love her wild as she first arose to run forever Hold fast to me bright blossoms falling from the trees I’ve watched them fall long gone, the talon and the claw bright blooms the flower but for an hour, and is gone . . . Look there, the dream mare cantering through the rocks and clover look there, the dream mare black as the galaxy below her wild as she first arose come and we go, the ones that know her wild as she first arose to run forever Let me raise these ragged words like feathers on an autumn wind
9.
Antlers 04:41
Massive and strange was the beast in the streetlamp trembling and grand in a halo of light there in his eyes was the look of surprise of a wandering king with a face long forgotten Where will he go when the last night star has faded chased from your gardens and into the hills Why has he come? Will he come back again when the last tree’s been felled when the last hill’s been taken? I did weep to see him so I would kiss him would go with him to shiver when the cold winds blow follow him where he would go where, where did he— follow him where he would go Father, brother oh, where did you go Daughter, I don’t know to the sea, or through the snow How will I know?
10.
Spirit House 07:10
I lived in a spirit house of blood and clay designed and though I was a guest within I lived like it was mine At times I felt its poverty and I thought that poverty mine but when I needed shelter into that house I would climb For the rain it poured like music while the lowly hearth did roar and I sang inside my spirit house as the wild wind raved at the door The night I left the spirit house I didn’t say goodbye just heard the plainchant of an owl cry and then I went outside Where the night was strangely sonorous and more fragrant than before and I reached out for my spirit house but those walls were there no more And when I found it was a dream I knelt down on the floor and thanked those beams, so long-strong and so unseen and gently shut the door Bless this house doorway hung with oranges and cloves altars of cinnamon and rose it’s granted you to live a while and know Bless this house morning when another day’s begun find me on the hillsides where I run gathering the white rays of the sun
11.
Clouds, unlace your fingers let me see him through your hands raise my palms to the fathering sun with his heels of clouds with his fists of wind Where, where have you gone with your mouthful of air? I need something strong give me lungs of wind give me wind Traveled round the world when I was a girl he was there with his fiery mare with his herds of clouds with his beasts of wind Where, where have you gone with your baskets of fire? I need something strong give me tongues of fire give me fire Where have you gone? For love of you has grabbed me by the color in naked summer light barefoot summer light
12.
Our hidden love is wilder than we know– a let out breath of evergreen and spruce, we cannot hold, we could not ever hold. Before I was your love, I was that loose and captivating dark, I was unnamed. I was the shake of fur on shaggy buttes and rivers swollen with the sheeting rains. And I have been the valleys that were drowned, and I have been the mountain that remains as brown and certain as a muddy mound that lived its lifetime in a rocky brook, before I was your love, we were the ground, where through the heated centuries we shook beneath life’s smoky, undulating plume, watched men like starfish spinning in the soot where life throws up its colors in a bloom. And earth will take their ashes back again each certain that his time has come too soon. But how we can forget these things, my friend, beneath the clanging changing of the hour, where clambering word over word, and hand over hand in endless search of permanence and power, in hurry as if the throne were never far away, we trample over perfect, blazing flowers. The glinting willows stop me where I stand. I can remember long forgotten names. I can remember stretching wide my hands to summon something sentient and strange. Our fire beating back the dark, we call, all human only this side of the change from something into something else; I fall into the space between their names. The age of mountains, the age of waterfalls must flood our human frames, the age of oceans drown the sound of clocks in singing whales. The dreamer turns the page. There, on the evening shore, we stop to talk where crabs bend their machinery to pray, the moonlight carving faces in the rock. The city’s cloak of noises falls away. The ocean tumbles, tossing in its bed. I hear its fiery waves. I taste its spray. I touch your fiery cheek, I taste the red of our lives’ rivers, singing as they go to meet the midnight sea where they were bred: Colossal tideline, generous and slow. Our hidden love is wilder than we know

about

Cascadia features 11 songs and one spoken word piece in honor of the natural world.

The album was inspired by an experience Venable had while living in Oakland, California. “It was after a gig and I was coming home late, when I found myself face to face with a wild deer. He was huge and majestic, and he was standing in an urban gutter.” For Venable, the encounter was galvanizing. “He was perfect in himself, but so out of place in his surroundings. It really brought home for me the plight of wild species in the city, and how far I felt from any real natural way of living. This album was my attempt to find my way back.”

Cascadia was produced by Noe with the support of her long time collaborator, bassist Todd Sickafoose (Ani DiFranco, Anais Mitchell). The album’s acoustic arrangements find Noe’s voice and guitar at play in a field of sound, surrounded by marimba, hammered dulcimer, orchestral strings and a chorus of voices. The rhythm section features upright bass and a wealth of world percussion instruments, deftly wielded by Mathias Kunzli (Moby, Yo-yo Ma’s Silk Road Project).

With its improvised soundscapes and intricate chamber arrangements, Cascadia is the soundtrack to a world you’ve never seen, or maybe you’ve dreamed it– a forest of imagination, where disenchantment gives way to wonder. The songs celebrate the lure of wilderness, the quiet power of human resourcefulness, and the discovery, amidst the challenges of modern life, of something which can be trusted.

The album was funded thanks to Noe's listeners, via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign.

credits

released July 19, 2018

Produced by Noe Venable
Engineered by Noe Venable (Spiral Staircase) and Ken Rich (Grand Street Recording
Mixed by Todd Sickafoose

Noe Venable – voices, guitar
Todd Sickafoose – bass, piano, xylophone, hammered dulcimer, zither, glockenspiel
Mathias Kunzli – drums, percussion
Yair Evnine – cello, vocals
Alan Lin – violin, vocals
Odessa Chen – vocals
Asa Marder and Calvin Wisner – additional vocals
Payton MacDonald – marimba, vibes

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Noe Venable San Francisco, California

Ethereal Folk Music for Seekers. In the words of Noe's fans: Elven, dreamlike, and entirely original.

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