No Unrest For The Wicked: Meredith Yayanos & The Parlour Trick (& an excellent Giveaway Contest!)

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Cover of “A Blessed Unrest” by Ellen J. Rogers

Greetings, kind spirits. Pull up a seat. If you care to stick around for a spell, below you will read my humble ode to an incredible human being, an amazingly dazzling soul. You may know her too, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t also think she is pretty fucking amazing as well. And if you read a bit further still, you’ll be rewarded for your patience with a rare and remarkable opportunity … (hint: it’s a giveaway contest, the title of this post probably spoiled the surprise.) 

Not to be melodramatic or anything, but in 2010 I experienced a grand renaissance of the soul. For years I had been half-living in a fog of repression and resentment and misery due to circumstances I felt trapped in, a poison I willingly drank. It would be another year before I would realize “hey, I don’t have to be here anymore, and I just can’t even with this poison”, but in that dim, half-lit time between unhappiness and sudden joy I discovered Coilhouse, and the glorious humans who helmed the endeavor.

A “love letter to alternative culture”, the Coilhouse blog and magazine was stunning, subversive and absolutely unparalleled. Their writing on artists and musicians and various visionaries led me down so many marvelous midnight rabbit holes, of course leading to other wondrous discoveries–because that’s what happens when you are informed, infected, and inspired, as they heartily encouraged in their logo– while also emboldening me to begin looking more closely at my own obsessions and writing about them, myself.

Though my tenure there was brief, I was both privileged to to write alongside these extraordinary people for a time, and honored to have the opportunity to forge relationships with and begin getting to know the kindred spirits whose nurturing, support, and gentle encouragement to revel in and celebrate my own weirdness was a boon for which I am still thankful today.

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Meredith Yayanos was one of those kind, clever, awe-inspiring women. Meredith’s writing was insightful and irreverent and beautiful, always, but it also made me slow down and think. I felt more mindful afterwards. She made a reader out of me who began more thoughtfully seeking meaningful context rather than pithy, shareable highlights. And most importantly, knowing this woman, this writer, musician, “monstrous feminist”, and “foul-mouthed harpy”, made me feel okay about my quirks and oddities and my habit of “making things weird”.

I’ve always felt, well, weird about how I might open my mouth and say a bit more than I intended to–and I don’t mean negatively, I am really not that kind of person–but more like… to friends and folks I really admire. Because I almost just couldn’t help myself. I used to long to tell people “I adore you and think you’re amazing, I truly do!” but you know, I felt that might be kind of weird to say to someone I’ve only been talking with for two days. And you know what, fuck that. Life is short, and sometimes brutal and I think people need to know when you’ve been impacted positively or touched by something they have said, or created, or maybe you just think they are an exceptionally luminous human being. I think it feels nice to hear these things about one’s self, and it certainly feels good to say them to someone else. I don’t try to stifle that instinct anymore, and I think, in part, that may be why I felt like things begin to change so dramatically for me in 2011.

Wax cylinder player photograph by Audrey Penven.

In 2012 Meredith released a kickstarter drive to fund her ghostly, atmospheric chamber music project, The Parlour Trick, an endeavor which she had originally began in 2006 after being compelled to “explore and unpack some of the creepier, more dysfunctional aspects of Victoriana.”  Along with fellow composer and multi-instrumentalist, Dan Cantrell, they conjured forth The Parlour Trick’s first full-length release, A Blessed Unrest, as a creative response to outmoded perceptions of female hysteria.  A “conjuring”, though. Hm. I suppose that’s an inaccurate take on this album. Perhaps it was less a summoning of spirits into existence and more a driving out of the demonic stuff. Meredith herself notes that the undertaking was, ultimately, “a failed exorcism.”

(On a personal note: when I heard a rough, unmixed version of what was to be the album’s second track, “Half-Sick of Shadows” that Meredith had posted on her tumblr, back in 2010, I was floored. I had never before heard music like this, and I felt it gave voice to all the haunted chambers of my heart. I recall telling her–and this took some bravery on my part at that time–that it sounded like ” the melancholy dead were singing to me but they haven’t got words anymore; they don’t know what they want. It’s beautiful and it makes me want to weep”.)

To sum up: the kickstarter was fully funded, an album of unearthly beauty was produced and available in both digital and vinyl mediums, and the vinyl completely sold out.

But have no fear, folks who have visited our home and wondered at the haunting sounds issuing forth from our gramophone, only to be saddened upon hearing the record is no longer available! Meredith is doing an independent repressing of this classically-tinged dark ambient record and pre-orders are still available! For now, that is. I would suggest you hie thee to the bandcamp page linked above, so that you do not miss out on her spectral masterpiece this time around.

Or…if you like, I have a proposal for you. Are you the musical sort, yourself? Do you tinker with madness and melodies? Do you dare summon forth some spooky sounds to share with us? Also…do you like to win things? Because if you dig all of these ideas, we have an enticing offer for you.

A competition, if you will! If you dare. Whosoever records the most chilling audio will win the “Theremina and back again Bindlestaff Hella Limited edition bundle”, worth $333. This includes the autographed album repress and “a meticulously assorted bundle of charms, artifacts, merch, and media culled from Mer’s vast personal Stash of Strangeness.” There is a more detailed listing of these glorious goodies on the bandcamp page, but dang– that’s a lot of text, so go to the site and check it out. 

…and what’s more, the chosen winner’s audio will be included in a future Parlour Trick track!

Send dropbox links of your creepy wavs and mp3s to theparlourtrick@gmail.com; you have until the Winter Solstice (December 21st), 2016 to sufficiently spook us with your deliciously disquieting sounds, at which point we will announce a winner sometime shortly thereafter.

Ah…but what’s that? Don’t steal away just yet, friends…can’t you feel it? A plucking at the sleeve,  an eerie murmuration on the wind. A shudder along the spine, evoking a frisson of fear, a shiver of anticipation:

Something is coming, it whispers. Keep the channel open…

 

 

 

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