"Chances are, you’ve never heard of Ed Pastorini. That’s entirely his fault. Ed has never played the game – you know, the one where you make music and then hustle to make sure people hear it, or pay other people to do that for you. He leads his occasional band, 101 Crustaceans, and on even rarer occasions, writes solo songs for his voice and piano. This is the kind of music that passes like a rumor from one obsessive fan (usually a fellow musician) to another. I fell hard for one of those songs, called “Strange Lures,” when Chris Rael sent me a copy many years ago. Chris was hustling to make sure I heard his music, but he couldn’t help sharing what Ed was doing. That must’ve been around 2001 or 2002, but it is only now that Ed Pastorini’s solo piano songs have finally been released. The album is called Strange Lures, and it is full of lyrics that can be precisely detailed but also elusive, and lyrical chord progressions that nonetheless have a dissonant bite to them. The title track, for example, uses a gently rocking piano part to support a sad but gripping tale of the fallout from mental illness – “a phase is just a phase to me/a pretty song is just a pretty song/but you were hearing sirens,” he sings in his rough-edged voice (and listen to the fraying in the line “to snap a rope that’s already frayed”). The song ends with a truly strange sequence of chords which repeats, allowing the strangeness to morph into something weirdly beautiful."
All news is old news, so here's some new news: NYC underground legend Ed Pastorini (he of 101 Crustaceans) has released a record under his own name, a
collection of vocal/piano songs called Strange Lures. Of the record's 15 tracks, four were recorded live at Merkin Hall in Carnegie and debuted as part of
John Schaefer's progressive New York City radio program New Sounds (episode #3087) on WNYC in 2010.
Strange Lures is out on CD and cassette (buy it on bandcamp).
The first video was directed by Lance Scott Walker (watch below).
Elysian Fields are hard at work on an album to be released in the fall. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and Oren (along with drummer Chris Vatalaro) recently contributed a track to the compilation
Vanity Of Vanities--A Tribute To Connie Converse, released
this month on John Zorn's Tzadik label. They are joined on the compilation by the likes of Karen O, Jeff Tweedy, Big Thief, Mike Patton, and Laurie Anderson, with everyone chipping in a unique take on
this lost songwriter's catalog. Elysian Fields work their magic on "Man In The Sky."
From the Tzadik site: Connie Converse was a remarkable composer who worked in the 1950s and 1960s. By 1974, depressed over her lack of recognition and success, she packed up her
belongings and drove off never to be heard of again. Little known in her lifetime, she is now viewed as a pioneer of the modern singer/songwriter genre.
This exciting compilation collects fifteen of her most unique and soulful songs performed by an all-star group of contemporary singer/songwriters. Featuring
an informative essay by musician and Converse scholar David Garland, Vanity of Vanities is a heartfelt tribute to one of the unsung heroes of contemporary songwriting.
Vanity Of Vanities can be purchased directly from the Tzadik site. You can also purchase the album from
Elysian Fields contributed a track to English post-punk band The The's Radio Cineola: Trilogy box set, which can be ordered here.
The duo recorded "Gravitate To Me" from The The's 1989 album Mind Bomb.
La Mar Enfortuna (Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow of Elysian Fields) are making a rare appearance this fall at The Jewish Museum in New York City.
The sephardic group will perform on Thursday, November 9 (7:30 – 9 pm) at Scheuer Auditorium in a concert presented by Bang On A Can.
Jennifer and Oren spent a fruitful summer finishing up the writing for their next record, and Elysian Fields go into the studio the end of August in upstate New York to begin recording for the new album!
In case you missed it, the opera Jennifer starred in last year won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for music.
The opera — Du Yun's 'Angel's Bone' — was called "an appallingly good work" by The New York Times.
Over the summer, Jennifer, along with the rest of the cast, recorded this original opera, which comes out October 7 on VIA Records.
Jennifer collaborated with her old Lovage running buddy Dan The Automator to make this breezy summer tune, which debuts as an Amazon Music Original today (6/23).
You can purchase or stream Nathaniel Merriweather's "Summer Lovin (feat. Jennifer Charles)" HERE and read about it in VIBE
Director Stephan Littger has finished production on a new Elysian Fields video for an older Elysian Fields song:
EF are back from the West Coast and will return to Brooklyn on June 10th for a night at The Owl [TICKETS]
The Pulitzer prize goes to Du Yun's Angel's Bone. Jennifer starred as the girl angel, in Du Yun's epic opera about two angels that fall to earth (a fable about human trafficking).
Jennifer is thrilled for Du Yun, and proud to have originated this unusual role.
EF will take a trip to the West Coast this spring, making their first appearance in San Francisco in 15 years at Hotel Utah on 4/26. Get [TICKETS]
Elysian Fields has a new video! "The Animals Know" is the third video from Ghosts Of No and the second from director/illustrator Steven Mertens (who also created the video for "Channeling" in 2014).
Jennifer guest spots on the debut album by Tredici Bacci, co-writing and singing on "Drowned." Tredici Bacci is the project of musician and composer Simon Hanes that channels his love of '60s/'70s soundtrack music,
tipping his hat especially to Italy and the likes of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. The group's new album, Amore Per Tutti,
is out via NNA Tapes, and you can hear it here.
EF has premiered a new video with French newspaper Libération. It is for the song "Higher Power" from Ghosts Of No and is directed by Lance Scott Walker. See their story
Elysian Fields will play in Brooklyn this weekend before another trip overseas:
10-09-2016 The Owl Music Parlor Brooklyn, NY
10-13-2016 Le Guingois Montluçon, France
10-14-2016 Usine à Gaz Nyon, Switzerland
10-15-2016 Les Abattoirs Bourgoin-Jallieu, France
10-16-2016 Akwaba Avignon, France
10-18-2016 La Chapelle Figeac, France
10-21-2016 Ebullition Bulle, Switzerland
10-22-2016 Sas Delemont, Switzerland
10-23-2016 La Crypte Lagorce, France
10-25-2016 Le Poste à Galène Marseille, France
10-26-2016 La Ferronnerie Pau, France
10-27-2016 Le Rocher De Palmer Bourdeaux, France
10-28-2016 Château Rouge Miramont-de-Guyenne, France
10-29-2016 Le VIP Saint-Nazaire, France
11-02-2016 TBA Paris, France
EF also made two radio appearances in Paris before getting out on the road:
Elysian Fields will have a new album out on 4/29 called Ghosts of No. It is their 10th record and will be accompanied by a video on its release date for the song "Shadow
Of The Living Light," shot and directed by Lance Scott Walker in the Mojave Desert. See the shows page for tour dates in New York, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Elysian Fields celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band with a retrospective concert series at the new Brooklyn music space The Owl Music Parlor, along with one show
at their home base of recent years, Le Poisson Rouge. Each of the concerts will feature an Elysian Fields album played in its entirety, and you can expect many of their
longstanding collaborators and cohorts to appear every night.
Individual tickets are on sale below, as well as a limited number of special series packages for all of the shows at The Owl.
Washington, DC area people can see Elysian Fields opening for Mercury Rev at The Rock & Roll Hotel on October 16 [TICKETS]
The video for "Channeling" was directed and illustrated by Steven Mertens:
Elysian Fields is in Europe and they have a new record out! The album is called
For House Cats And Sea Fans, and it is the ninth offering from the duo of Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow, who have been making music together now
since the early '90s. This album is a bit of a reflection of the no wave music on which they cut their teeth in New York City in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, and there are guest appearances on this record that reach into that world, with sax and vocal work from James Chance, longtime friend
and collaborator J.G. Thirlwell and a cover painting by John Lurie.
EF also made a radio appearance this week in Paris. They played two songs live in the studio:
Frank, You Ruined Me (10:21)
Next Year In Jerusalem (33:12)
Check the shows page for their dates in France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.
They are there through the end of April, and you can find more information
on their new record right here.
Ed Pastorini is an underground legend in New York City, where his brilliant, off the map
compositions have drawn praise from writers and musicians alike in a career that began in the late 1980s. He is known
as a solo artist, making appearances around New York City both on piano and on guitar,
and 101 Crustaceans is his band.
Nearly a decade in the making, Train Bolt Roller
only six songs, but it is decidedly an album — not only because of the epic length of each of its tracks, but because of the full circle of birth to death that it
carries us through as listeners. It sinks in slow, and benefits from repeated listens.
Ed's songs are helmed here by
Indigo Street (guitar),
Oren Bloedow (bass) and
Ben Perowsky (drums).
"Ed Pastorini has been an almost mythical figure on the New York music scene – a reclusive genius whose songs are brilliant, and quietly
subversive. Full of unexpected chord changes and an emotive quality that creeps up on you, they seem to come from several traditions at once – or none at all.
The only problem with Ed's music has been that so few people know it. Now, finally, that will change."
— John Schaefer, NPR
"Your ears and your spirit have grown ten sizes. Favorite living songwriter. Period. Train Bolt Roller is a bruiser of a record, and a great
introduction to the brilliant treasure chest that is Ed's (mostly unrecorded!) song catalogue."
— Jennifer Charles, Elysian Fields
His music is bristling with odd dissonances, but also contains moments of consonance made all the more precious by the twisted, tortuous
paths by which they are arrived at.
The only comparisons I can think to make are to Captain Beefheart and to Slint, but to my ears, Pastorini is better than either of them.
— Thomas Bartlett for Salon.com
Listen to Ed perform live (solo piano) on WQXR's Cued Up program here