“Observations of nature’s ongoing brilliance, set to a shining and bold retro-pop backing. The result is resounding, and by the end we also feel reborn.” – The 405
“An enriching journey” – Long Live Vinyl
“Sensual and dark at heart.” – Shindig
“Death Tapes“ is an ex-voto delivered on a wave of gothic surf-disco that confesses her renewed urge to create purely for the sake of creation, proclaiming: “Deeper than the sound that took my body to the ground / I dig this hole”.
The video was created by Berlin director and comic book artist Ziska Riemann whose films Lollipop Monster, the recently premiered ‘Electric Girl’, and the highly anticipated ‘Get Lucky’, are cementing her reputation in Germany and beyond as a leading light in fantastical, genre-mixing drama.
As Riemann explains of the collaboration: “Gemma Ray’s songs are very filmic. When I first listened to ‘Death Tapes’ it immediately inspired a visual world. The video became a journey into the otherworld. It takes place in a surreal landscape where the baron of death is roaming. Like a high priestess Gemma is reminding us of the certainty of death; her voice makes old souls return from their graves and rivers overflow. The sirens call and while everybody is digging their hole in the ground these ghosts keep on dancing.”
The word ‘rock’ has many connotations, but for Gemma Ray, the most important is probably not the one you’d expect most musicians to nurse. The Essex-raised, Berlin-based singer and songwriter clings to its most fundamental definition, insisting that, when she takes to the road – as she did almost unremittingly in the year following the release of her last album, 2016’s acclaimed ‘The Exodus Suite’ – she find the time to explore the landscape that touring can reveal. In Ray‘s world, the word conjures up images of the grand, twisted formations she’s seen while travelling the world, whether in the immense deserts of the US or among the carved mountains of New Zealand.
It’s the development of Ray’s emotional connection to such spectacular scenes that lies deep at the heart of‘Psychogeology’, which, in keeping with its subject matter, represents Ray’s most ambitious release to date, its intricate arrangements and textures – including choral and string arrangements – the result of almost a year’s labour determinedly hewn from rare periods of time available between tours. The album, she says, is “an ode to the majesty of landscape, the enormity of nature and time, and the inevitability of every human life eventually forming a minuscule part of further landscapes.”
Ray has worked alongside, among others, Sparks (who in fact produced Ray covering their own songs), Suicide’sAlan Vega (their collaboration turned out to be one of his final recordings), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Thomas Wydler (The Bad Seeds) and arranger Fiona Brice. She was also invited to perform with Potsdam, Germany’s legendary Filmorchester Babelsberg, and last December she joined them again, this time with Peaches, Einstürzende Neubauten’s Jochen Arbeit and other special guests as part of The Can Projekt, a celebration of ground-breaking ‘krautrock ‘pioneers Can that took place at Berlin’s famed Volksbühne Theatre.
Gemma Ray UK live dates:
Feb 28: Ramsgate Music Hall
Mar 1: Leek, Foxlowe Arts Centre
Mar 2: Hebden Bridge, Trades Club
Mar 3: Newcastle, Cobalt
Mar 5: London, Dalston Victoria
‘Psychogeology’ track list:
1. Blossom Crawls (YouTube)
2. Death Tapes (YouTube)
3. It’s Only Loneliness
4. In Colour
5. Flood Plains
6. Psychogeology (YouTube)
7. Land of Make Believe
8. Dreaming is Easy
9. Roll On River
10. Summer Comes
‘Psychogeology’ is available to pre-order here: https://bit.ly/2KVehet