MARK OLSON – SPOKESWOMAN OF THE BRIGHT SUN
GRCD/GRLP 918 (plus CD) – 4030433791820 / 4030433791813
This is music that will speak to you about things that have happened! An album that sounds like you are alone in the desert all by yourself. Remembering childhood experiences and musical instruments and all the joy that took place. We have forgotten because of terrible things that have happened. Is it the truthfulness that attracts you to this music? Listen out of time: Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold are singing ‘Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun’, the follow-up of the critically acclaimed Alternative Country/Americana masterpiece ‘Good-bye Lizelle’ (Glitterhouse Records, 2014).
“Our album was recorded during a Joshua Tree summer basically inside our cabin/home but sometimes outside on the porch,” says Mark, “it was warm and I was making a lot of strange ice teas, brewing recipes that came from an herb book I had bought at the local thrift store. We went right from writing, to rehearsal to recording in the May, June and July time period and I think that is the secret to making a unique album, keeping the momentum of the writing and part learning of the song as you move towards to final takes. The recording sessions with Danny Frankel (drums) took place in the morning before the Mojave heat was on. Danny lives nearby and has developed his own language via his beat communiques (a type of tambourine Esperanto). We were able to go back over some of the grooves and try different approaches and some of the songs just worked on the first couple of takes. Later that summer we visited with Lewis Keller (bass) in his home in Colorado. We had a time and rather than show him charts and such we went on and on about the themes and significance of each song and how it relates to the recorded folk-rock legacy on certain albums stuck in time. The writing of the music for this album is the desert I long to return to, this valley of string sounds is where I really want to be and what takes up the most time in my heart. The remembering of how I was just a young teenager driving up Topanga Canyon with my Aunt to a bluegrass festival. The sounds of banjos in the Santa Monica Mountains and the beautiful outdoors. That is why now I write mostly outside, under an old Siberian Elm tree that is home to a colony of Bumble Bees. Wow! Look Out! They buzz me on occasion and also just float above my head, hovering in a curious way like some natural apis blimps sent out to observe my lonely work!”
Ingunn Ringvold – Mark’s wife and musical partner in life and music – comes from Norway, the home of Thor Heyerdahl, the explorer of Easter Island and Kon Tiki raft author. She has been singing in public since she was a very young person. Her voice is one of natural beauty. Ingunn is honest, trustworthy and strong. She hears music in her heart and writes emotionally dramatic and moving string arrangements. She plays the Armenian Qanon. She studied with Arax a very well established Qanon master from Vanadzor, Armenia. In Vanadzor she learned how to harness great strength in her performance style. Ingunn also plays the keyboards, djembe, guitar and dulcimer.
“Composing and arranging for ‘Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun’ was one of the most joyful experiences of my recording career,” Ingunn recalls, “I’d bought a Mellotron from Stockholm that I was very excited about, every different string arrangement was like a different color in an impressionistic painting, I was able to incorporate from my musical heritage, the hymns and the folk songs of my Grandmother, to my own style of minor and major walking hand in hand. Working with Mark’s original material and unpredictable chord progressions has been the highlight of my musical journey, it’s like I’m standing in the desert holding a gemstone in my hand”.
All original track recordings were made with a Nagra field recorder. These tracks were delivered to John Schreiner for mixing and mastering. This is the moment a rainbow came into town. John has worked in some of the most important historically speaking and result speaking recording studios in Los Angeles. John worked with Hal Blaine in the past and in the present reinforced his studio sounds in San Clemente, CA with room sounds from studio 3 at Western Recorders. John mixes in groupings and the results are a new step forward in post-modern folk-rock sound exploration. Enjoy the warmth and spaciousness of these outstanding musical mixes!
Mark Olson was born and raised in Minnesota by a family of mostly farmers and school teachers. He has been involved with musical instruments since the age of twelve and is self -taught for the most part and uses alternate tunings and two-part unison singing followed then by breaking off into harmony in his writing and live performances. He lives now in the California Desert with his wife Ingunn Ringvold. Mark and Ingunn tour off and on internationally almost every year.
‘Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun’ by Mark Olson will be released by Red Eye Distribution August 25th in N. & S. America and Australia/NZ and Glitterhouse Records September 1st in Europe 2017 followed by extensive touring.
★★★★ Rolling Stone DE “Lavish folkpop”
“Sun-drenched. Hand-crafted psychedelic pop.” – Uncut
“Wonderfully profound.” – FolkWords UK
“With Olson’s work there is innocence, melancholy and often beautiful melody. The lyrics are profound…The music carries real charm” – Irish Times
“Americana? This is the real deal. The title track ‘Spokeswoman of the Bright Sky’ is epic. A lyrical and poetic album” – Pennyblack Music
“You will need a degree in surrealism. I have no idea what is happening. I have the lyric sheet in front of me. It may as well be upside down. I don’t care as the album is a thing of joy.” – Maverick Magazine
“If you lost track of Mark Olson after he left the Jayhawks, you’re missing a lot of music that is as good as or better than any that that fine group produced. A good place to start catching up is the exquisite new Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun, Olson’s first album in three years, which he recorded in collaboration with his wife Ingunn Ringvold. She provides harmony vocals and gorgeous string arrangements and plays Mellotron, among other instruments; Olson adds guitar and dulcimer, and there’s also a percussionist and a bassist. As for the lyrics, they’re as cryptic as the album’s title. “Hello to the four o’clock family / Hello to the one that lives there,” goes a typical verse. “…Burgundy sun shower, where is life / Death Valley soda pop cool down dream.” Huh? Fortunately, the music—which hovers somewhere between alt-country and 60s folk/rock psychedelia—is a whole lot more accessible.”
– Jeff Burger | NO DEPRESSION Album Review
A previous effort, Good Bye Lizelle, set the stage for their current collaboration, Spokeswoman of the Bright Sun, a dual effort that finds Olson taking top billing. Regardless, it’s clear that both he and Ringvold took equal roles in the album’s conception and creation, in the songwriting and in the execution (He sings and and plays guitars and dulcimer, she adds vocals, melotron, chamberlin and something called a qanon). Their combined efforts give the album a quaint, chamber pop feel, a sound akin to the band Love, the Left Banke and other outfits of the era prone to bask on the very fringe of flowery ‘60s psychedelia.
While that may not have been the duo’s entire intent, the results work well, Olson’s wistful vocals, gentle harmonies and wide-eyed outlook conveying a paisley pop sound that’s somehow both whimsical and reflective. The songs — “Dear Elisabeth,” “Time of Love” “Nicola” and “All My Days” in particular — also bring to mind hints of the Incredible String Band in their lilting gait and angular execution. Still, comparisons should not negate the easy, affable tones and the sumptuous serendipity fully displayed here. Indeed, this Spokeswomanhas substance to share. – No Depression / Lee Zimmerman
Photo Credit: Nemanja Djordjevic
Photo Credit: Nemanja Djordjevic
Photo Credit: Daniel Coston
Photo Credit: Daniel Coston