Alessandro Baris & Lee Ranaldo team up on new song “Last Letter to Jayne” (watch the video)
Bologna musician Alessandro Baris has teamed up with Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo for a collaborative new song, "Last Letter to Jayne," which will appear on Alessandro's upcoming debut solo EP SINTESI. It's a haunting, ethereal song fueled by minimal electronics, gorgeous background harmonies, and Lee's spoken word, and if you're a Lee Ranaldo/Sonic Youth fan, it should feel both refreshingly familiar and new and exciting. Alessandro says:
"Last Letter to Jayne" has been the last piece of the album that I've composed and it's probably the one who better represents the research of absence that guided me through this work. My initial vision was that of crossing a glacial landscape, hostile to life but necessary for it, as a metaphor for which those tough moments we experience are necessary to move on through our life process. After the electronic instrumental part was done I thought of having a spoken word part on it in order to add organicity - so I thought of Lee who has a very particular and evocative vocal timbre. Since we met we've kept in touch often talking about a possible collaboration. When i've sent him the instrumental part he loved it and right after he began working on vocals for it - eventually he created such a majestic and beautiful vocal symphony with lyrics that fit perfectly the feelings that I wanted to evoke with the music. It's been amazing and exciting working together - Sonic Youth is an important part of my life soundtrack - I wouldn't ever imagined to collaborate with Lee someday, especially considering from where I started and my path on the way to this collaboration. History at all times draws the strangest consequences from remotest causes.
The initial text for Last Letter to Jayne was written in the early dark days of the pandemic, when it seemed the world was closing in. We were stuck at home, hardly able to go outside even for some fresh air. Fear and insecurity were high. I had recently parted ways with someone who I’d been close to, but our time together was ending, sealing shut like the doors and windows in the pandemic. The poem came as a sort of memorial to a relationship with a fixed ending. Some time later Alessandro approached me about working together on a collaborative song. When I heard the somber, majestic music I thought that I could adapt the poem to fit, and also challenge myself to be experimental with my vocals in a way that was quite new for me - using overlapping voices and phrases to create an instability between the foreground and the background, a '3- dimensional' evocation of an emotional state.. I tried some test vocals and found that the words merged well with the music, and was happy when Ale thought so too. We worked together to perfect the mix of the voices and the music to create an emotional landscape. During the work on the lyrics we here in the USA became immersed in the Black Lives Matter protests, which have been so important. At some point it occurred to me to try to make the lyrics less specifically tied to a single person, and my own loss, and to attempt something expanded, so I appended many more names to Jayne’s, symbolizing all those relationships that have been here and gone, lost in one way or another - in my life, in Ale’s, perhaps in yours too. It’s certainly a natural part of life, but something I’ll never get used to…
We're premiering the song's video, directed by Luigi Honorat, who also commented:
“Last Letter to Jayne” being closer to a poem, I approached it differently than I normally do. I wanted to follow it rather than re-interpret it. It has this slow, linear progression and I wanted that to carry the visuals. The form itself represents 2 entities, going from order to chaos to nothing as they interact and penetrate one into the other. In the end, the purity is gone, one entity takes the upper hand, and soon the light is leaving. I wanted the viewer to be in the form rather than outside of it, with the entities, rather than watching them.
Alessandro also added this about the video:
Collaborating with Luigi for the visual hasn't happened by chance - I knew his communicative and elegant works. He's able to be poetic using a language like video art, that could result cold sometimes but not with him - he's also able to unite together the concept of devastation and rebirth. The visual he made interacts with the music and evokes its feelings.
You can watch the video below and download the song from Bandcamp.