Soundtrack for "Blood: Miniature Paintings Of Sorrow and Fear". This Musical Score was commissioned by the Artist Mark Ryden for his series of paintings in 2003. Premiere held at the Earl McGrath Gallery in NYC summer 2003. Each musical piece is representative of a painting by Mark Ryden. The score was designed to accompany the paintings, but to not intrude. To provide an appropriate and ambient "score" for viewing and contemplation of the work. Thank you folks - for supporting independent music!
THE MUSICAL SOUNDTRACK FOR "BLOOD"
"The composers' intent for MARK RYDEN'S "BLOOD: Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear" was to create music that would allow the mind to wander and imagine. Music entering a space like a scented candle or a faint perfume, an "aroma". Functioning more as a series of shadows or distant echoes. Like a dark and blurry reflection in a faraway mirror."
Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun / summer 2003
~ Review from All Music Guide ~
"The latest release by Stan Ridgway pairs him with vocalist Pietra Wexstun, of Hecate's Angels. Together they have composed a soundtrack for artist Mark Ryden's latest series of paintings, entitled Blood, and the music accompanied the paintings as an installation at the Earl McGrath Gallery in New York in 2003. For those unfamiliar with Ryden, he is the now notorious painter whose work is an obsessed amalgam of pop culture kitsch and surreal darkness, ... From bunnies carving meat, to little girls in repose waiting for something bad to happen with a look of cool, dead reserve, to pictures of longing where sorrow, hipster detachment, and dread all commingle,
Ryden's work isn't for everyone but then neither is the composer's. Musically, Blood harks back to the work of the company named Acme Soundtracks that Ridgway created before he became Wall of Voodoo. It's spooky, striking, and deeply atmospheric but lush and melodic, all at the same time. Don't look for grimacing ambiences influenced by Brian Eno here; this is music that broods, sings, whispers, and slithers. There are lush moments of physical beauty followed always by deeper, more sinister emotions.
Vocalist / composer Wexstun's wordless voices add so much to the Ridgway compositional method that they layer another dimension on to the tracks and give them a more melancholy or alternately ecstatic feel. For fans of Ridgway's Western noir songwriting, this will be a stretch, but it ought not to be; this is a soundtrack that is cohesive, compelling, and more than a little unsettling. Great!. " Thom Jurek (All Music Guide)
"sublimely abstract - pulsing - modern - and in the groove. This one has the future written all over it!" - Artforum
"This CD was one of the most beautiful soundtracks I have heard. It complimented the essence of each Mark Ryden painting perfectly. This is the first example i have heard of work by Stan Ridgway & Pietra Wexstun and I can say it wont be the last." - Lesley Scarah - aMusicFan
Listeners here have said:
"It is divine. Spooky, but at the same time relaxing. I just love the music." - Cindy Cruz
"The emotion evoked by this music is haunting to say the least, we forget the lost world of our child hood in which we could escape. Pietra and Stan you materialized the key to the doors Mr. Ryden has provided" - Music Maven
MORE LISTENER'S SAY:
"There are some kinds of music that give you something unexpected. That was the feeling that I get with Music for Mark Ryden's "Blood". I'm a designer and painter, and every time I work a listen to this cd! It takes you to other places and inspires you. Do you want to fly? You got to buy this cd! The box is spectacular."
"The best CD I've purchased in a long time. So many beautiful textures and moods. Ridgway, an extraordinary stoyteller, along with Wexstn manage to communicate using music to firmly plant the listener into Mark Ryden's somewhat dark universe. Currently on our most-played-in-our-kitchen list. WOW. Instantly collectible."
"This delightful collection of dark and brooding melodies is great for setting a mood. It's the kind of music I love to listen to as I'm working, because it flows naturally and inspires creativity. The songs are each very unique, reminding me of dreams or nightmares I have had. The entire CD gives me a sense of timelessness - being taken to a new land of mystery and suspense. No matter how many times I listen to it, the stories my mind conjures are always fresh and intriguing. I love the faraway children's sounds, the bells, the creepiness. If my life was made into a horror movie, I would want to use this CD as the soundtrack."
"More than simple mood music. Otherworldly yet strangely familiar. Each track conjures up a different piece of some deep-seated remembrance. Most seem to be of childhood times or dreams long forgotten; a unique listening experience. The instrumentation and wordless vocals blend together seamlessly and the production is superb. Thank you Stan & Pietra... and Mark, for the inspiration!"
Thanks you for coming. All hail art.
A440 RECORDS and www.stanridgway.com
Composed and Produced by Stan Ridgway (Wall Of Voodoo) and Pietra Wexstun (Hecate's Angels)
The Art work and Design of the CD and packaging is by Mark Ryden.
THIS from The Earl McGrath Gallery Exhibition Bio
Mark Ryden - "BLOOD - Miniature Paintings Of Sorrow And Fear"
Sept. 18 thru Oct. 20
@ Earl Mcgrath Gallery, NYC
Music Score Installation and Performance Credits:
Stan Ridgway: 6 & 12 string guitars, harmonica, prophet 5,
Pietra Wexstun: piano, organ, juno 106, mellotron, moog, samples, autoharp, voices
Lazlo Vickers: cello, violin, contra bass
Alvin Fike: brass and reeds
Recorded at Impala Digital, Venice, CA
Mastered by Bob Demaa - Spring 2003
Executive Producer: Sean P. Riley
Art Direction and Design by Mark Ryden & Brian Jackson
Original Composer's Notes for "Blood" - on Working With Mark Ryden by Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun - Summer 2003
When contacted by our old friend and Wall Of Voodoo road buddy Mr. Sean Riley, (now an artist's agent) about writing music for Mr. Mark Ryden's "Blood Show" - Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear", we were excited and honored to be asked. Having both been admirers of Mark's work for quite some time, fellow composer Pietra Wexstun and I both saw it alot like scoring a great film, but with one exception.
The so called sonic "action" would be an interior one and psychological; a meditative and transcendental approach....and hopefully more like an "aroma" of sound; other than a music that would shout at you to listen to it, or get in the way. Ambient? Yes.
We both worked for a musical "soundtrack" that the listener would "feel" more than hear. A functional and utilitarian device that would draw out the essential essence of the work and play low in the background, barely perceived by the viewer in the gallery.
The goal was to allow the mind to wander and imagine, and not intrude . Like a scented candle or a faint perfume. To function more as a series of shadows or distant echos, or a blurry reflection in a far away mirror.
A lot of music was written over time, and it was decided that certain pieces would be assigned to certain paintings that seemed to compliment a deeper experience with the music. At the same time, other pieces started to mix with these, and full program of sound took shape.
Although the musical pieces here are named, numbered and indexed, some for paintings and some not.; the music is really meant to start anywhere one might enter, and hopefully resemble the experience of walking into the gallery and viewing Mark's wonderful and extremely evocative work. We hope you enjoy "listening" to it as much as we enjoyed writing it.
Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun
Los Angeles / summer 2003
THE MUSICAL SOUNDTRACK FOR "BLOOD"
Stan and Pietra say : "The composers' intent for MARK RYDEN'S "BLOOD: Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear" was to create music that would allow the mind to wander and imagine. Music entering a space like a scented candle or a faint perfume, an "aroma". Functioning more as a series of shadows or distant echoes. Like a dark and blurry reflection in a faraway mirror."
Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun / summer 2003
MARK RYDEN was born on January 20, 1963 in Medford, Oregon, but grew up in Southern California.He received a B.F.A. in 1987 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena,California.
Mark's paintings instantly trigger a warped deja vu. His work recalls a parallel universe of 1950s Golden Books and the whimsy of Lewis Carroll. His cheery bunnies, rendered in the glowing hues of children's books, are likely to be carving slabs of meat rather than frolicking in the forest. Ryden'swork mingles superb technique with outre images to create a world of strange and disturbing beauty. "At once intriguing and unsettling, baffling and enchanting, [Ryden's] works ... are subtle amalgams of many sources and influences as wide-ranging as Psychedelic and Vienna School artists Neon Park and Ernst Fuchs, to classical French formalists Ingres and David."
Mark was part of a very creative family. His father, Keith, made his living painting, restoring, and customizing cars. Mark's mother, Barbara, while dedicated her life to raising her 5 children, was always busy with a creative project and encouraged her children in the pursuit of art. Mark's older
brother KRK, an underground artist notorious in the counter culture, gave Mark an early introduction to art.
Mark's paintings are treasured by collectors from Australia to Sweden. A few of his clients include Stephen King, Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Leonard, Ringo Starr, Danny Elfman, Kirk Hammett, Paul Leary, Chris Carter, Don Was, Kidada Jones, Bridget Fonda, Henry Selik and the famous anti-mogul Long Gone John.
Currently, Mark paints high atop a magic castle in Pasadena, California. You can find him late at night in his studio among his many trinkets, statues, skeletons, saints, and old toys that he collects for inspiration.
STAN RIDGWAY's musical career began in the late seventies as part of a soundtrack company to create music for low-budget horror films. From the ashes, Wall Of Voodoo was born, and with Ridgway as lead voice, released an EP, two albums, and the 1983 hit single "Mexican Radio". Upon leaving, he embarked on a solo career that has included collaborations with drummer Stewart Copeland of The Police on the film "Rumblefish" dir. by Francis Ford Coppola, other independent film soundtracks, as well as producing other artists, (most recently Frank Black and The Catholics new release "Show Me Your Tears" (2003), in addition to numerous solo recordings "The Big Heat", "Mosquitos", "Holiday In Dirt", "Anatomy" etc. Ridgway's newest cds are "Snakebite"(2005) and Stan Ridgway and Drywall - "Barbeque Babylon"(2006).
PIETRA WEXSTUN has composed music for "Nice Ladies In Cages," a collection of paintings by Christi Ava (Santa Barbara Museum of Art) , "Visuadelia," a sound and light installation by Barry Fahr (Barnsdale Gallery), and "Something about Summer," a performance piece by magician Jim Piper (L.A. County Museum of Art ). Wexstun has recordedand performed with songwriter Stan Ridgway for over 20 years. Together they formed the electro-experimental combo Drywall, producing both an album, "Work the Dumb Oracle" and a short film "The Drywall Incident." Her band Hecate's Angels has issued two CD's, "Hidden Persuader" and "Saints and Scoundrels" and has provided music for several independent films and T.V. commercials.
JUXTAPOSE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW with MARK RYDEN
"BLOOD: Miniature Paintings of Sorrow and Fear"
By Chuck Amok
Sept / Oct 2003
Mark Ryden has recently moved his infamous studio to the top of the famous, allegedly haunted, Castle Green hotel in Pasadena, California. I couldn’t wait to meet the mysterious Mr. Ryden; king of the current pop narrative movement the "Art World" can’t shake. I had so many questions I couldn’t wait to ask him, questions like, what is the significance of the fact that Abraham Lincoln and Christina Ricci were both born on February 12th?
It was a particularly hot day when I visited his studio at the historic landmark. Castle Green was built in 1899 and originally served as a popular resort hotel for upper crusties of another era. I approached the iron gates of the vast Victorian mansion and pushed the buzzer. As I waited for a reply, I happened to look up to the uppermost balcony. There I saw a mysterious figure, dressed all in black. It has been rumored that Mr. Ryden only wears black and indeed, only eats black food. The gates opened themselves and I walked through the garden, heavy with the lush scent of shaven lawn. The castle stood imposingly before me. It seemed strange that such a large building could be so silent. I walked up the veranda stairs, and into the cool, dark, elegant lobby. A pale, morose elevator man, who seemed more like an undertaker, greeted me there.
"I am here to see Mr. Ryden," I said.
"Yes, follow me", he answered, in a monotone.
I wondered if I was I awake or in some kind of haunted 50’s B movie as he escorted me into his iron cage elevator. While we ascended I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I was surprised by my own exaggerated anticipation. It was a long silent ride to the top of the building, and the undertaker did not make eye contact.
Then, as so few people are ever given the chance to, I entered the studio of Mark Ryden. There was almost too much to take in. It was a beautiful space, somewhere between the New York Museum of Natural History and the Vatican, with a little of Pee Wee’s Playhouse thrown in. To my left a huge wooden chinese lion growled at me. To my right a wee Abraham lincoln, surrounded by plastic angels, held out his hand. Mr. Ryden was at a table; his back turned to me. On the table were numerous bottles of unknown substances and strange apparatuses. There was a peculiar odor in the air and I could hear a bubbling sound. I was very curious about what he was doing, but suddenly my attention was pulled to the other side of the room. There I saw with my own eyes the famous Magic Monkey. He stood on his pedestal, majestic and at the same time utterly freaky. I couldn’t believe I was really there.
Composing myself, I cleared my throat. Mr. Ryden turned. He was indeed dressed in black, wearing a long priest-like coat. The thing I could make no sense of and will haunt me to my dying day was the clown mask he was wearing. He removed it as if this was a normal thing to do. "Hello" he said to me, in a kind voice, and our interview began.
"Why blood?" I asked him.
"Sometimes life can be very dark. I’ve been going through a very difficult time," he replied. "Last year, after 14 years of marriage, my wife asked me for a divorce. Anybody who has been through a divorce knows how horrible it can be. With in a year’s time I lost some of the most important things in my life. I lost the financial security I had worked for years to achieve. I lost a beautiful home I worked so hard to own. But, of course, worst of all, I lost my family. I am allowed to be with my children on Tuesdays and every other weekend, but that is quite different from the relationship we had when I was with them everyday. It is brutal to have your dreams shattered. The hopes you have for your life and family get torn apart and it causes a pain very deep inside. I found it curious that there was no blood with my trauma. It seemed like with so much pain I should be covered in blood. I wanted to be able to see my wounds, but they were not on the surface of my flesh."
I was taken aback by his candid response.
"I did not want to hide why I did these paintings," he said. "I know it might seem like a very personal thing to share with the world. I suppose most people are surprised, but I think the world would be a better place if more people didn’t hide their pain. We all have pain. It is comforting to know we are not alone in it. That’s why I had the Blood Show open in Los Angles on my wedding anniversary,"
"Not only was the opening on your anniversary but on that very night Mr. Bush started his own "Blood" show. He began dropping bombs on Iraq within minutes of the start of your opening. Was this an eerie coincidence?"
"Yes, very eerie and very sad. As much as it should not have surprised me I could not believe Bush actually went and did it. He is making this world into a very frightening place."
"Do you see the world as filled with only ‘Sorrow and Fear’?"
"There is a very dark and painful side to life, but that is natural. People in our culture think they shouldn’t ever be unhappy. They think being unhappy is unnatural. They try and make it go away. They take pills or they go to therapy to "fix" themselves. They blame themselves or others for their suffering. We need to understand that sadness is as much a part of this life as joy. It would be easy to just get bitter and cold while focusing on the dark side, but there is also an amazing, wonderful side of life. If you look for it, there is true magic all around us. Maybe that sounds trite to the hardened self-protective modern ego, but there is magic in this miraculous life. If you open yourself, you do make yourself vulnerable to pain. But the deeper pain you experience, the deeper joy you can have."
"These paintings seem to combine darkness with a certain amount of humor."
"There is a serious side to these paintings and there is also a side inspired by The Haunted Mansion. There is real pain and there is also something else that isn’t just irony. I include "lowly" pop culture influences in my art without an attitude of ironic judgement. I can see the sublime beauty in a cheap toy package and I can see the kitsch qualities in the loftiest work of art in a museum. These things coexist in life and can coexist in a painting. Critics who think a "higher truth" can only be found in obtuse, elitist art are just as full of shit as those who think artists shouldn’t go to college and should have lots of tattoos. "
"Some of the paintings are only a few inches big. Why did you paint them in miniature?"
"Making these paintings at such a tiny scale captured the right tone. I didn’t want them huge and screaming blood. I didn’t feel like doing that. My intention was much more quiet and introspective. I wanted them to be more of a whisper."
"Blood usually can’t whisper, by nature it screams."
"Blood is very powerful. While meat is the substance that keeps our living souls in this physical reality, blood keeps our meat alive. Blood is liquid life. When blood escapes our bodies we are alarmed to the very core of our brains. It is life leaking out of us. It is frightening and makes red a profoundly intense color."
"Is that why you covered the gallery walls with red velvet drapes and had everyone wear red to the opening?"
"Yes. I liked the mood it created. Adding further to the mood, Stan Ridgway and Pietra Wexstun created a "Soundtrack" for the show. I have loved Stan’s music for many years, and it was such an honor to work with him. We met at my Bunnies and Bees show last year. We were dancing around the booze hole, and he came up with the idea to make music to go with my art. It is extraordinary that it actually came to be. Stan and his wife, Pietra Wexstun, created a special composition to go with each painting. Their beautiful music added a great deal to the experience of seeing the show."
"Just one more question, Mr. Ryden. What is the significance of the fact that Abraham Lincoln and Christina Ricci were both born on February 12th?"
At this point in the interview Mr. Ryden’s attention seemed to wander. He slowly replaced his clown mask and fell silent. Realizing the interview was over I gathered my things, walked out of the studio, and rang for the elevator.
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