Published Sep 27, 2016Toronto- and London-based experimental orchestra Flowers of Hell collaborated with opera soprano Danie Friesen for last year's Aria 51 EP, and that creative collaboration will continue on a new record called Symphony No. 1. It's due out December 2 through Optical Sounds, though only 300 copies will initially arrive on wax.
The group have officially incorporated Friesen into their ever-changing and expanding lineup, and they teamed up with producer Jeremy Darby for some of the latest recordings — though much of the album was made at bandleader Greg Jarvis's Toronto home.
Inspiration for the new material came from a wide array of experiences and encounters, including praise from some rather recognizable names.
A conversation with the Sex Pistols' late manager Malcolm McLaren cemented Jarvis's drive to combine punk rock and classical music.
"I spent a few days with Malcolm in Prague when I worked at a label there and I got to ask how he'd made the symphonic versions of the Pistols' songs, along with his more operatic records," Jarvis recalled in a statement. "He told me, 'I don't play anything, I just know what I want and tell people in the studio what to do or what to try to do — and eventually it becomes what I'm after.' That gave me the belief I could do symphonic stuff too, despite not being able to read or write a note."
That didn't mean Jarvis didn't hit some rough patches where he considered abandoning the entire project. Thankfully, Lou Reed deeming Flowers of Hell's work "beautiful," "amazing" and "great" on his final BBC6 Radio show gave Jarvis the encouragement he needed to continue pursuing the project.
Jarvis's unique perspective heavily informed the latest musical offering, as well. As someone able to experience synaesthesia, Jarvis sees sounds in the form as abstract shapes, causing him to refer to Symphony No. 1 as "an album length abstract animated movie."
As for the sonic influences that permeate the new record, a press release points to traces of "Wagnerian bombast, Eno-y ambience, and soaring Morricone strings," as wells as touches of Spacemen 3 and the Jesus & the Mary Chain.
See the full tracklisting for Symphony No. 1 below. Beyond that, listen to "Movement 1."
Symphony No. 1:
Sketches Of Space
Shades & Shapes A
Shades & Shapes B
Aria 51 (Choral Reprise)
Aria 51 (Solo Reprise)
Wall Of Oblivion