Cascadia

by Noe Venable

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midiscripts Amazing album! Magical, sweet and kind.
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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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Track Name: Lights and Fences
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
Track Name: The Hidden Word
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
Track Name: Water Carves the Mountain
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.”
Track Name: Song for Dan
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. . .
Track Name: Honey of Experience
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
Track Name: Feather and the Quill
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
Track Name: Antlers
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?
Track Name: Spirit House
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
Track Name: Fathering Sun
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
Track Name: I Was Unnamed
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

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