The World is Bound by Secret Knots

by Noe Venable

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about

The World is Bound by Secret Knots is haunted. What are its ghosts? A lion, a queen, a girl in a tree. The Black Madonna, “Goddess of strays.” A child turned wild. Throughout runs the theme of incantation– calling on forces stronger than one’s self to help one meet the challenge of the moment, hovering between daring and regret.

The sonic landscape of this album was masterminded by Todd Sickafoose, and features the guitar wizardry of Nels Cline (Wilco), among others.

This album includes many of the songs Noe played while out on the road during her second tour opening for Ani DiFranco.


What they said:

As I keep trying to tell people, San Francisco’s award-winning singer-songwriter Noe Venable has a ton of talent packed into her tiny frame. That’s likely why Ani DiFranco keeps inviting her out on tour … that, and, like DiFranco, she’s got a wonderfully wacky sense of humor. Venable’s latest album is also her most ambitious, seductive and engaging. With just an electric piano backing her up… on the opening “riverWide,” (Venable) is just playing a trick, starting off with an odd little distraction so that when she unleashes her powers and allure, aiming them at that special spot between your throat and heart, they’ll hit with maximum impact. Swirling and smoky, “Juniper” meticulously melts the mind and haunts the heart. Like most of Venable’s songs, it sounds like it comes from another time and place, a spot in the past that held more beauty and magic than we can presently imagine. With whispered word-speak singing, Venable casts a creepy and curious little spell of a story-song during “Black Madonna,’ throwing in harp swipes as if to remind us that she’s playing a bit. That voice gets smooth and put into a house of mirrors for the following “garden,” and then introspective and subdued on the gentle and soothing “midsummer night’s dream.” Venable has a knack for singing phases so that they immediately and permanently stick to the brain and on “feral,” when she gently shouts, “I got a sister and I got a little brother, and I don’t ever wanna be like them either,” well, I can’t help but repeat the line aloud over and over. In fact, a great amount of The World is Bound by Secret Knots has taken up a comfortable, lasting residence in my mind and this album deserves many more happy homes. Noe Venable may be small, but she should be huge.

-In Music We Trust

The World Is Bound by Secret Knots is Noe Venable’s most accessible and compelling album to date… The new collection of songs sounds as if it could have been inspired by a fever dream… Venable says this record is her most personal collection of songs to date, but her work isn’t that of your typical confessional folksinger. For one thing, it’s not really folk music. Though she does often play open chords strummed on acoustic guitar, it’s where the words and ideas take the songs that makes them distinctive. Venable’s unique point of view emerges in lyrics that can sometimes come across more like allegories than first-person stories. Even when she’s tackling personal or familial issues, as in “Juniper” and “In the Dark,” the metaphors she chooses and the way she twists language remove the subject matter a few steps from personal experience. In addition, the eerie guitar effects and hypnotic loops that haunt the corners of songs such as “Feral” distance Venable even further from the conventional singer-songwriter genre, giving her more in common with Tom Waits and Radiohead than with Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan.

-Acoustic Guitar Magazine

credits

released July 19, 2018

Produced by Todd Sickafoose
Mixed by Todd Sickafoose
Mastered by John Greenham

Noe Venable – voices, guitars, mandolin, wurlitzer
Todd Sickafoose – piano, keyboards, basses, guitars, programming
Alan Lin – violin & effects
Dan Morris – percussion
Nels Cline – electric guitars
Justin Morrell – additional acoustic guitar on Midsummer Night’s Dream

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about

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: River Wide
the mirror must be broken
or else how do you explain the scattered light?
the mirror must be broken
and the day dissolving into night
they think I am sleeping
but I woke up on the edge of the river wide
of all the broken pieces
of all the pieces I can find
of all the diamond splinters
there is one keeps sticking in my mind?
hurry past the border
everyone is waiting for you on the other side of
where you hide, love,
by the riverWide
Track Name: Juniper
mama oh mama I don’t wanna come down
not if it’s all like it was on the ground
hiding my feet ‘cause I’m too shy to dance
hiding my face behind both of my hands

mama oh mama don’t make me come down
‘cause I don’t know what will come out of my mouth
people will hear they won’t know who I am
people will hear and they won’t understand

mama I’ve seen them the others like me
once I could see it was all I could see
the silent procession that crosses the snow
in which skeleton ladies like skeletons go

mama oh mama up here where I’m free
I have seen beauty you wouldn’t believe
Juniper’s ledges and Juniper’s birds
where Juniper’s edges and mine become blurred

mama oh mama if you only heard
the reasons for living the freedom of words
the blooming balloon of a thought being born
safe in the branches of Juniper’s arms

mama oh mama I’m not like you think
some harrowing walker down narrowing streets
if I had my way I would bring the whole world
every sleepwalker and each hungry girl

mama oh mama and old uncle tom
my father the thinker my daughter the song
tell every bell to just wake up and ring
tell this whole choir to just shut up and sing

mama oh mama I’m holding your hand
in these glorious dreams in which you understand
mama oh mama we’re spinning around
mama oh mama don’t make me come down
Track Name: Tower
there is an ocean
I have been holding in my hands
there is an ocean
I have been holding back for years
where I was standing
now I am rocking to and fro
will you still love me
after you see this tower come down?

we used to play at
light as a feather stiff as a board
we used to play at
listening in to the darker world
oh how strangely
applicable those games seem now
will you still know me
after you see this tower come down?

girl I’ve forgotten
how to be brave could you show me how?
girl I’d forgotten,
where did you go? I’m lonely now?
that’s when it struck me
and I rang out just like a bell
she’ll be there laughing
in the place where the tower fell

bricks and mortar
raining down on the little ones heads
bricks and mortar
raining down on the little ones little ones

you will awaken
your sensuality
you will awaken
it’s an eventuality
here comes an ocean
I’ve been holding in my hands
here comes and ocean
I’ve been holding back for years
Track Name: Black Madonna
Black Madonna will come down for you
with open arms and a veil to hide her face
and Black Madonna will come down for you
and there is no sickness and there is no suffering
and there is no anguish and no anger that she cannot erase

you might see Black Madonna walking between the sheets of an angry day
or you might see her smile a strange-sad smile as she steps out of your way
or you might not see her at all
but she might be coming down for you
with her arms spread wide and her head on fire
’cause she sees you been down so long

>> there isn’t a sin that you could make that she will not forgive

but oh, Black Madonna, I did not believe her beauty
I thought I did not need her mercy
I thought I did not need
traded my belongings and my body
my memory and my mind
my center of gravity and my sense of direction
’til I woke up half an hour from the city
and realized I had lost all sense of the passage of time
so I don’t know if it’s been a day or a week or a year
all I know is I’m still here
and I always thought you’d lift me up
and you never did
what the fuck?

>>there isn’t a sin that you could make
that she will not forgive
no there isn’t a sin that you could make
in the ways that a stray must live

so what I wanna know is this
if you believe in everything fitting into a kind of place
if you believe that everything and everybody has a certain space they fit into
babies entering into a welcoming world in jubilant curls of star gazing wonder
and the sick yes even the sick just a shuffling into sleep’s dark brother
and the sleepers in the sleet
the heaps in the street
nestled under trestles for to get a little heat
and if the trestles watch over the sleepers
and if life ushers her lucky winners
through fleshy gates to four star dinners
and if sleep ushers his population
to plug into the dream life radio station
and if thin souls whose bodies haven’t wrecked them
walk smoky streets that know and expect them
then what I want to know is this
what of strays who have turned their backs on the god of strays?

>>what of strays who’ve turned their backs
on the god of strays, yeah, what of them?

oh Black Madonna I was thinking about the days that I spent with you
’cause now I doze and daze and drown
and cling to the wreckage of a sinking town
and I walk your dire streets in search of anything that?s still pure
’cause I once thought you watched over me
but now I’m not so sure
Track Name: Garden
I lay my head upon your chest
bones of iron bones of lead
and death is rattling the cage
like a bird that would escape
but there’s no room for thoughts like these
in the garden where we sleep

and I am on a burning ship
clothes all flying in the wind
but I am beautiful like this
when you hold me in your hands
but there?s no room for thoughts like these
in the garden where we sleep

always searching for those breasts
pumping morphine
always searching for–
don’t you fly to them
don’t you fly to them
you can fly to me

I’ll take the moment in my hands
pull it open ’til it sings
before the motion of this place
where nothing stops to have a name
will leave us hanging like a tear?
Track Name: Is the Spirit Here?
you’re tuning out like a snowy television
you’re turning into something you don’t understand
caught amongst the hungry ghosts
fluttering in windows
caught amongst the hungry ghosts that take you by the hand
you used to dream that you would meet a stranger
you used to dream that one day
you would catch a whale
but now you walk alone
it is not a walk through pansies
where did it go?
is the spirit here?
No

broken bottles broken bones
she had a man who used to beat her
don’t let anybody know
heavy hands, hair of cedar
and they come and use you up
and then leave you where they found you
’til you sigh and let it go
is the spirit here?

definitely no

swollen bellies hungry souls
swollen cities hungry nation
their opinions are a crutch
for a dead imagination
empty eyes and broken homes
and I wonder, have I joined them?
well at least I’m not alone
is the spirit here?

definitely no

like a flatline, without pain
like a doctor who keeps talking
catch a bottle full of rain
like a robot I went walking
then the roof came flying off
like a border open wide
like a flower where you died
like a sinister banister slide
into the minds
of the houses you’ve abandoned
through a sea of shattered lives
like a swan without my pride
like a monster in a dress
near forgotten left a mess
like the only one you can’t impress
is the spirit here?

YES
Track Name: Midsummer Night's Dream
Aslan and the Silver Queen
couldn’t stop time
although they tried
now just look at me
seventeen and seventy
turn it around
follow me down
midsummer night’s dream

the bite of wind the taste of rain
getting called names
comets of pain
and other bright things
my favorite things and favorite places
covered in kisses
when all of this is memories
what kind of creature shall I be?

>> hOw’d yOU get in hERe?
— shh! it’s a secRet
>> tell me!
— on flYing hEEls and wAGon wHEels? (rest is unintelligible)

so I run out but not away
shooting off sparks into the dark
out in the street
’cause one day I am going to bloom
patient and proud
with fish in my mouth
and eyes in my wings
what kind of creature shall I be?

Aslan and the Silver Queen
turn it around
follow me down
midsummer night’s dream
Track Name: Feral
I wanna run ’til my feet start bleeding
I wanna make it all the way to the ocean
I wanna live for life and no other
cause I don’t ever wanna be like my mother
I wanna learn to walk on the water
cause I don’t wanna be like my father
I have a sister and I got a little brother
and I don’t ever wanna be like them either

uh uH Uh
feral

I had a place I’d go in the garden
where I’d pretend that nobody made me,
watch the sun going down on the day like a
gentleman going down on a lady
and I had friends who would come and meet me
and we would stay ’til early evening
singing, “we’re not gonna die away so easy
we’re not gonna die away die away, no?”

uH uh UH!

I’m not scared to walk like a lady
and I’m not scared to cry like a baby
I’m not scared I’m not scared I’m not
I’m not scared I’m not?
Track Name: Wings Again
I have wings again
can you see them?
I can’t but I know they’re there
my wings again
now you’re gone there’s
nothing left to keep me here

and you can tell my friends
they won’t believe
when I broke down like a plastic heart
that I had them then
but for some reason
I would rather fall apart
than notice them

nights I spent puzzling over where they went
caught like an act on your high wire
plummeting like a bird on fire
tumbling over
believe it or not I nearly forgot
the stumps where my wings were cut off oh
cut off oh

you’re standing on the ledge
you watch the empty sky fade out
and there’s no one
to pull you back from the edge
I raise my arms above my head
and I close my eyes
and I hold my breath
I wonder why would you rather fall apart than notice them?
nights I spent puzzling over where they went
nights I spent puzzling over where where where where they went
puzzling over the stumps where my wings were cut off oh
cut off oh
Track Name: Lilies
I lay me down like a truth amongst the dares
I lay me down and someone cut my hair
I lay me down I cannot remember where

I think about it less than you’d think
the thing that happened when I was asleep
I think about it more than you’d know
the things that waking I myself chose

I dreamed a woman where the night sky met my eyes
I dreamed a woman she had lilies in her eyes
I feel that something inside me wants to rise

I think about it less than you’d think
the thing that happened when I was asleep
sometimes it weighs heavy on me
the things I did when I was awake
sometimes it weighs heavy on me
Track Name: Doll Comes to Life
canopy of light and sound
moving freely
rising up from falling down
can you see me?

find yourself another doll
to pin your dreams upon
find yourself another doll
cause this one’s leaving
Track Name: In the Dark
ask this girl
you for me
in the dark
what did you see?

first I stopped listening ’til I couldn’t hear
then I stopped living out of books and mirrors
then I stopped looking ’til I couldn’t see
when I say darkness this is what I mean

ask this girl
eye to mind
in the dark
what did you find?

and in the dark I touch with all my toes
and in the dark I taste with all my teeth
and in the dark I kiss and dance and scream
I’m not afraid of being anything

and I remember when I was a kid
feeling about unicorns the way I did
first I poked through to it like a stitch in time
now I am reuniting horn and mind

I will buck up against the city lights
when it goes blurry and I am afraid
’til I can feel you uncompromised
’til I can feel you

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