Simone Schmidt's Fiver project last delivered a full-length album with 2013's Lost the Plot, though she did give us Still Holding with the Highest Order last year. Now, she's returned to the Fiver moniker for a new album arriving this spring.
Audible Songs from Rockwood is due out on April 21 via Idée Fixe Records, and it's available for pre-order here. The 11-song record hears Schmidt sharing stories from Kingston's Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane.
Schmidt conducted research at the Archives of Ontario, delving into logs, ledgers and patient case files before composing a series of "fictional field recordings." The end result presents a series of songs told from the perspective of women who were incarcerated in the facility from 1855 to 1877.
She addresses themes of "settler colonialism, poverty, the stigma of mental illness and morally dubious authority," as well as "the objectivity of history" itself in the new songs, which were recorded with fellow musicians John Showman, Chris Coole, Max Heineman, Christine Schmitt, Cris Derksen and Alia O'Brian.
"In the archives, the lives of many of these women have been reduced to short notes by doctors, judges and law enforcement," Schmidt said in a statement. "My hope is that these songs give the listener a new memory to the everyday survival of a few women who lived their lives marginal to the ambitions of the men in charge."
In addition to the music, Audible Songs from Rockwood will be accompanied by a book styled after Smithsonian Folkways liner notes. It contains lyrics, supplemental information and historical context for the inmates' experiences, as well as original artwork.
Furthermore, news of the impending record arrives with a mini-documentary called The Writing of Audible Songs from Rockwood. It was directed by Colin Medley and provides listeners with a primer on the titular institution and Schmidt's research process.
To get an exclusive first look at the short film below, just scroll past the tracklisting for Audible Songs from Rockwood and hit play.
Audible Songs from Rockwood:
1.Waltz For One
2. House Of Lost Words
4. Haldimand County
5. Hair Of The Dead
6. Worship The Sun (Not The Golden Boy)
7. Carry On Warm
8. Pile Your Silver
9. Yonder White Mare
10. Stable Song