Jennifer Castle - Monarch Season
Jennifer Castle’s sixth album, the moon-suffused Monarch Season - an album as delicate and diaphanous as its namesake butterfly - stands, in a literal sense, as her first proper “solo” album, performed alone in her coastal kitchen, windows open to the insects and the wind and the reflection of the moon on Lake Erie, entirely without human accompaniment (though a chorus of crickets provides rich interstitial support throughout.)
In autumn 2009, for the first time, monarch butterflies, known for their extensive annual North American migrations, emerged from their cocoons in outer space, onboard the International Space Station, part of a NASA experiment on the effects of microgravity on Lepidoptera. Ten years later, in autumn 2019, Jennifer Castle sat at home in her quiet coastal kitchen in Ontario, windows open to the insects and the wind and the reflection of the moon on Lake Erie her host of muses and recorded nine moon-suffused songs. It was monarch season again on Earth, and Jennifer was inspired to “see the wings in everything.” A year later, we have Monarch Season, an album as delicate and diaphanous as its namesake creature. Although created half a year pre-pandemic, Castle deliberately pursued a minimalist, homebound, and solitary process that represented, for her musical practice, a radical reduction of scale, coupled with a telescopic expansion of scope.
The follow-up to her acclaimed 2018 record Angels of Death, Monarch Season is Castle’s private experiment on the effects of microgravity in this context, increased immediacy, intimacy, domesticity, simplicity, brevity, and directness on her music. Monarch Season transports the listener, from the first strains of the heavy-lidded guitar instrumental 'Theory Rest,' to that lakeside kitchen at dusk, beneath a bright moon twinned in the water.
The influence of Castle's friend and mentor Kath Bloom can be heard throughout, in the gentle waywardness of the melodies to the open fragility of the vocals. But here is an album of individual wonder and warmth; the tape warbles and field recordings contrast with the lush production to create a uniquely relatable other-worldliness.
"This record is a reminder to cherish openly that which reflects off and onto me. A reminder that stone orbs only become meaningful moons when they experience the gravity and light of others.” - Jennifer Castle.
~Like last night's dream you can't remember" - Greil Marcus
“No hyperbole, Jennifer Castle is a spectacular songwriter. Her singing carries the joy of life” - The FADER
“Flickers between the broadly universal and the devastatingly personal …She effortlessly conveys the conflicting emotions that accompany loss.” - Pitchfork
I’ll Never Walk Alone
Moonbeam or Ray
LP pressed on 140g vinyl; this deluxe first pressing contains a songbook of sheet music to every song (limited to 1000 copies); full colour inner sleeve; includes download coupon