The Helio Sequence re-imagine 1914 song “Down Among the Sheltering Palms” (listen)
Portland label Marmoset Music is releasing a new compilation album called Transference on December 1 (pre-order), and "for this project, the producers at Marmoset excavated a collection of 100 or more year-old songs in the public domain, considering each one as a timeless design worthy of a modern interpretation. Marmoset then presented the collection to a diverse swath of its extended artist community, with the invitation to collaborate." Here's more background:
The recordings were deconstructed one by one, thoughtfully plotting intentions of reimagining them through a new, modern lense. Drawing from the sonic muses of various artists, Marmoset’s team worked closely with each one to conceptualize these historical artifacts as distinct, new expressions of art. While the core bones and connective tissue of each original song remain – respectfully preserving the basic structures and melodies – each piece has been deliberately woven into a new, original fabric.
Every collaboration was approached as its own independent endeavor. Sheet music ranging from 1860 to 1921 was disseminated to each of the artists and bands, and as each project began, no one was certain if it was going to work out or not. Yet, each time it did. And with each new recording, they discovered with great curiosity and surprise, the true embodiment of a phenomenon called Transference.
We're premiering The Helio Sequence's "Out Among The Sheltering Pines," a re-imagination of "Down Among the Sheltering Palms" which was a standard recorded by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, and others. In The Helio Sequence's hands, it basically sounds like a Helio Sequence original, proving just how timeless some of this material can be. Here's what the band tells us about the cover:
Approaching a cover of "Down Among the Sheltering Palms" was first and foremost a task of making the overall theme something more personally relatable. When Abe Olman, James Brockman and Leo Wood wrote the song in the early 20th century, they were playing upon the longing felt by those in the Midwest and Northeast US particularly for a place that was sunny and ideal. A Florida Paradise of the Mind, so to speak. The song was heavily marketed and successful in the Chicago region, where folks are no strangers to heavy winter weather. The melody felt sunny, the delivery was often breezy (Al Jolson, Boswell Sisters) and the instrumentation bright (ukes, swinging backbeat, etc). It was a song meant to speak to a yearning for escape to something better.
I took cues from this and re-imagined the song from a "Pacific Northwesterner's" standpoint. I know nothing of palm treed paradise having grown up in Portland, but my yearning for escape is wrapped up with the beautiful forests where I've hiked and camped all my life. So the sheltering "Palms" became "Pines" for me. And instead of taking place "down" in an imagined southern paradise, I'd be "out" among the wilds somewhere in the Cascades to the west. Instead of the bright sunny instrumentation of Uke's and beach invoking instrumentation, an acoustic guitar would be the backbone to play upon the folky feeling of sitting by the fireside at camp. And, rather than a laid back palm tree feel, the forest appeals to my sense of mysticism...there's a bit of humbling unease in being cut loose in the wild that accompanies the rush of freedom and I hoped to convey that with the droning sound of the chorus, anchored on the open bass string alternating with the rising chorus refrain. It was all intuition and feeling and the song just flowed from there. And in this way it was just like working on any other song.
1. Ural Thomas and The Pain - Hot Time In The Old Town
2. Shaky Faces - April Showers
3. Dear Nora - Where The Morning Glories Grow
4. Trimountaine - Play A Simple Melody
5. The Helio Sequence - Out Among The Sheltering Pines
6. Bouquet - Wildwood Flower
7. Distance Feat. Frankie Simone - The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
8. Patternist - Beautiful Dreamer
9. Mree - Shine On Harvest Moon
10. Hot Bloods - Me And My Gal