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Of birds

by A Seated Craft

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    Where A Seated Craft's first album 'The Savage and the Small' contemplated distance and yearning, her new album 'Of Birds' looks at what it means to rebuild a life. At times stark and sparsely arranged, at others vibrant and brimming with colour, 'Of birds' is a musical aviary of orchestral sounds, Alexia's arresting voice binding it all together.

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Summer days 04:12
Summer days, sumer tempers, summer fires dark skies bruised and sunburnt with awakened desires the air leaves a smokey kind of taste on the tongue everywhere is the laughter from the old and the young and from the room next to mine I hear you breath as you lie feel the comfort and joy of you being close by there's no words but the simple ones to say what I feel inside these days are as real as they'll ever be this is as close as anybody's ever gotten to me you gave me smiles when the sun frowned down I'll always have time whenever you are around you taught me love comes even if it comes late you had the patience like no other when I asked you to wait for me these days are as real as they'll ever be this is as close and anybody's ever gotten to me
I am rising, I'm done fighting to be small no dark hands will make me a shadow on their wall all this silence has made a skeleton of me I am rising, bones are rattling build a bower, bound with blue and shiny things all around her lair of hooks and bells and rings only beauty and the absurd and the divine may peruse me, may pay their dues to what is mine oh life you've tried to make amends with sunsets wide and humble men but I take back now my loose ends and bind them tight to make the right kind of kindling to light a fire with so let's burn this, let this become our bacchanal fire and furnace, a pyre of words old and banal light ignited – the likes of which I've never seen line by syllable burned clean of what was said and what was heard do not be bound and burdened by those words of what was done the unsung hurt do not be ground and girded by those words we're stronger when we let ourselves be heard
I find geese 04:19
There I go on days like these I find geese in the strangest corners All is still, I have needles for eyes Stitching up the open skies there I go, so quietly standing still, demanding beauty as ducks brush the surface as dusk shrugs the dirt off there I go again
such a sun I'd chosen pulled it from a notion polished it with prose and oh how it shone all golden I guess I got my science wrong trying to move around a sun next up I'll think that the earth is round first comes the ache of dawn then the birds break out in song then all we know comes falling down such a sun a golden bowl, a molten lung such emotion a violent hymn, a pendulum such work begun to be unpicked, unstitched, unsewn a once-sung wonder overthrown and I alone, alone yet not struck dumb
One's friend 05:32
It's one's friend here, calling from a deep green valley It's dark and late here, the the show is over for another year Last night the rodeo megaphone murmured faintly in the air softened by the valley reverb and kilometres of trees what from afar looked like a single globe lit the oval and the edge of the caravan park cauliflowers and carnations won prizes and horses were denied the opportunity I hope your day is o-kiddy-kay till soon It's one's friend here, reporting from a frozen city it's dark and early here, the day is over by mid-afternoon last night the man downstairs drunkenly fell out of his window his fall softened by the bushes, lucky he lives on the ground floor and from afar the Fernsehturn looks like a globe pierced by a chopstick its bulbous beauty made surreal by the snow ice has staked its claim on pavements the buildings sing off-key under their breath oh it's a plain city but sometimes the loveliness can stop you dead hope you're well till next time and you say – I'm outside time here it's quite strange and I say – all the trees are fat and green here, it's quite a change and you say – each day is defined by the sky and I say – I remember the smell of the air and the light, day and night our tiny windows of words let lovely light in my world
Pillows are pebbles and you are a stone's throw from sleep Your body skimming circles on the sheets bone tired, the lone fire is out but the water won't break preferring to play ducks and drakes than let your weight through than let the current take you thought and light are the levers that keep the levee high and on the crest of the creek the rest of the sleepless lie limbs like a lovers strewn on a funeral pyre but the water won't rise preferring to lie like a dry lullaby unsung until the morning comes and your ducks and your drakes are all pieces of eight flung with the latent strength of the numb but at the break of the day the bank's still caked with clay and the lake remains unswum row, row, row, row to where the water is thin lo, lo, lo behold what's below its silver skin oh, oh, oh, lady of the lake let them in let her in and let him in take them under and let them swim pillows are pebbles and you are a stone's throw from sleep
Pied crow, Cape Turtle Dove, Coucal and Go-away bird
When I wake up in your house and the light outside is starting to rouse a tiding of magpies out in the trees who harmonise with each breath as it leaves you and my own lungs fill like balloons and the air in my chest lifts me up to the top of the room and my heart is so wonderfully full between your breath and the birds I don't know which is more beautiful
Trickle patter caterpillar rain's hemmed your travels in dusty burned streets become rivers no-one taught you how to swim could a leaf become a boat could a lamb learn how to lie and if such foliage stayed afloat where would your joy reside? Salvage a song from the wreckage sample all its smells and flavours tackle the grief with the grappa and become a gremlin slayer as the sky-bees dance on the skin all the girls are running riot Scarlett's out back nursing the tom cat while I'm failing to be quiet Standing where all the parachutes fall High like an angel low like a wet fog in the morn all are calling for you not to leave but you're reading your stars in your palm and your heart's exercising it's muscle memory Notre Dame n'est pas une femme just a girl who done got lucky see her there still swears like a sailor acting like she knows the deal Notre Dame's a girl still learning all her roads still lead to roaming but she'll find her way back home 'cos the heart's got muscle memory
Increments 04:08
Half light, body like a kite inclined, chest an open mine no gold, seams all stripped and sold oh I know what it's like to be low, low, low I'm not going to let your hand go I know what it's like to move slow, so slow all there is to give is just the start just a part of it cast off, departure has been cleared sky soft, land has disappeared light falls in increments, the sun is comandeered oh I know what it's like to be low, low, low I'm not going to let your hand go I know what it's like to move slow, so slow all that we've to give is just the start not the last of it a blind spark that's lit to lend the fire the fight to live
Sardinia 04:32
Bird call cuts the morning like a new pack of cards Moths twitch like eyelids pressed against the bark our eyes, out teeth, our bones and breath our chubby fists say yes, say yes Here the butterflies are friendly fire the trees are alive, the air alight with powdered flight of slight paper wings, bare feet brush through the grass flush the life from the leaves and they rise and rise
Simple guest 03:30
oh, I know, I haven't known you very long but that's just bones and a short time stretches on strange to start there but we all start somewhere after that storm we think we'll never again be warm so say we all, board the windows, bar the door oh faith, you simple guest – your hand so light on a broken chest oh, I know, I haven't loved you very long but that just shows; inside the little lies the strong and oh my heart – be brave! There's a world inside just being safe and oh my heart – be true! It's the simple things that will carry you
On the cusp 03:56
old love, on the cusp of letting go of the rest of us old laughter, hands in the cold the taste of your tenderness and the hurts tenfold and I could lie beside your smile for all of time and still be silent and what do we do now that we are grown no more branches to brandish no more rocks to be thrown take our bats and our balls and shake hands and go home?


Australian musician Alexia Peniguel is 'A Seated Craft'. One part silver-tongued folk narrator, the other golden-voiced chanteuse, her music is – as her stage name suggests – something both intricately hand-crafted and a vehicle that carries the listener, like a boat, on a journey to another place.

Where her first album, 'The Savage and the Small' (2011) contemplated distance and the weight of a journey across continents (Alexia relocated to Berlin in 2004), the new album, 'Of Birds', explores what happens once the journey is done and the weight has been put down. To do this, 'Of Birds' draws inspiration from many things, including the obvious title reference. However, perhaps the most striking of her winged muses is the bowerbird – a small, plain-looking creature that, despite its dowdy appearance, builds an extraordinary arbor-like nest to attract a mate, decorating it with the brightest found objects. In the song 'Bowerbird Bacchanal', Alexia draws parallels between this labour of love and her own experience of reconstructing her life, urging herself to 'build a bower, bound with blue and shiny things' where 'only beauty... may peruse me'. This sense of creating a space from which to sing out from permeates the album.

Musically, 'Of Birds' is a wondrous carpet-bag of orchestral sounds: trumpet, drums, clarinet, cello, treble recorder and piano all paint sceneries and build stories across a bed of bruised electric and agile parlour guitar; Alexia's arresting voice and those of her guest musicians weaving tales throughout. At times stark and sparsely arranged, such as the quiet, plaintive ode to Galileo Galilei in “1633 in Villa Medici”; at other times vibrant and brimming with sonic colour, such as the pulsating, flurry of wings and heartbeats that is 'Sardinia'; orchestrations unfold to elevate the narrative. When Alexia sings in 'Sardinia', 'bird call cuts the morning like a new pack of cards', cellos, recorders and choirboy-like voices chime in to bear witness; when she berates herself in 'I Find Geese' for her self-absorption in the midst of wonder, 'demanding beauty as ducks brush the surface', organs, pianos and accordions oscillate as if taking off from the lake itself.

Recorded over the period of a year, from the beginning of one winter through to the end of the next, 'Of Birds' emerges from its winter lair bright-eyed and joyful. As Alexia explains, 'I wanted to consciously celebrate achievements while honouring disappointments. In doing so, I wanted to create an almost symphonic environment where these things could co-exist'. She cast her net wide in order to gather her 'orchestra', working with long-time musical partners, drummer and sound engineer Benjamin Johnson and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Jule Kauert, renowned Australian producer/multi-instrumentalist Tony Dupé, UK folktronica artist Cajita, US folk-americana troubadour Ian Fisher and a handpicked selection of quietly accomplished German, Australian and North American musicians.

Much like the bowerbird collecting his kaleidoscopic material to create an alluring nest, 'A Seated Craft' has gathered a palette of both subtle and vibrant musical hues to build her bower. But has it succeeded in attracting the things she so desired? Has it revealed to her what comes after the long journey, what happens after the weight has been relinquished? Perhaps the answer to this can be found in the album cover itself, where she sits, a hint of a smile on her face, in the apartment where 'Of Birds' was recorded and where she lives today - no longer the outsider looking in but the one that belongs.


released February 20, 2015


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A Seated Craft Berlin, Germany

A Seated Craft is the music of Alexia Peniguel. Originally
from Melbourne, Australia, she has lived unobtrusively in
Berlin, Germany since 2004. Lo-fi in style, hi-fi in texture, she treats words like clothing and keeps instruments like some people keep cats.
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