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Graveface Records

Xiu Xiu - Nina

$39.00

Graveface Records

Xiu Xiu - Nina

$39.00

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A TAV Curator's Pick.

"Nina" is a Nina Simone tribute album recorded by Xiu Xiu, released on Graveface Records in 2013.

"With an artist as wide-ranging and prolific as Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart, it can be hard to put into words what, exactly, his music sounds like. But when it comes to Stewart’s forthcoming NINA, he certainly doesn’t sound like himself.

NINA is a thank-you note, a love letter and a kind of musical fan-fic for the late icon Nina Simone. This being Xiu Xiu, of course, Stewart’s tribute album is far from a collection of straight covers. Rather, he and long-time collaborator Ches Smith — “the only person I know who could understand this in his heart and also handle the technical side of fearlessly reorienting such wonderful music” — bring Simone into focus through their own avant-dark lens.

Stewart pushes his tenor into Tom Waits territory on tracks like “Wild Is the Wind” while maintaining femininity by adopting a trembling and breathy singing style. Smith’s arrangements, replete with languid, discordant jazz saxophone; sedate accordion; and brisk, minimalist drums, are disquieting, sometimes downright spooky. The collection is both haunting and haunted and, like the best tributes, provides a new perspective on Simone, showcasing both her versatility as a songwriter and Stewart’s vigorous creativity.

“The idea came being back stage in Austin TX, opening for Swans and feeling like I did not play well,” Stewart explains. The night before, he and Swans’ Michael Gira had discussed Simone, their love both for her talent as a musician and her fearlessness as a civil rights activist, and how Simone inspired them to make better work. Feeling down on himself, yet inspired both by the memory of Simone and the “epic and beautiful persistence” of Gira and Swans, Stewart decided to honor Simone and challenge himself in making NINA.

 To that end, NINA was recorded in just one day, all in first or second takes. In doing so, Stewart captured the immediacy of the feelings that inspired the record, but it was also a practical decision. Stewart is a busy man. In the next year alone he has a new full-length Xiu Xiu record coming out, along with other planned releases, and an event with conceptual artist Danh Vo at Milwaukee’s Walker Arts Center in October. Last month, he wrapped up another performance, “Dark Materials,” with visual artist Monika Grzymala and choreographer Jeremy Wade at Hamburg’s Internationales Sommerfestival and he’s also been busy touring with Swans and working with Eugene Robinson from Oxbow on their side project, Sal Mineo." - Press Release

"Nina Simone was a fearless artist, and it also takes a certain amount of bravery to reinterpret her songs. With Nina, Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart pays homage to her restless talent and spirit instead of trying to re-create her sound. He finds his own voice -- literally and figuratively -- for these songs, and makes some provocative choices. Nina opens with one of its boldest tracks, a version of "Don't Smoke in Bed" where Stewart's voice sounds like it's been raked over the coals, brass erupts in fits and starts, and the overall mood is raw anguish instead of a wry farewell. ... 

Nina's quieter moments are no less impressive, whether it's the relatively faithful but not slavish rendition of "Wild Is the Wind," which preserves the melody's moody beauty, or "The Other Woman," which he imbues with the poignancy that has driven many of Xiu Xiu's finest songs. Along with celebrating the boldest parts of Stewart and Simone's art, Nina marks the return of Xiu Xiu's uncompromising side at its often exhilarating best." - AllMusic

Musicians:

  • Jamie Stewart: vocals
  • Tim Berne: alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
  • Tony Malaby: tenor saxophone
  • Mary Halvorson: guitar
  • Andrea Parkins: accordion, electronics, piano, Moog
  • Ches Smith: drums

Item description:        

Artist:

Xiu Xiu

Title:

Nina

Label:

Graveface Records

Format:

Vinyl, LP, Album

Pressing:

US

Release Date:

2013

Genre:

Indie, Jazz, Rock

Style:

Avantgarde, Experimental, Vocal, Noise

Catalog No:

GRAVE103

Condition:

New