Released on December 1, 2023
Arone Dyer, an artist renowned for her captivating vocal talents and reputation for pushing creative boundaries, joins forces with the trailblazing European classical-contemporary ensemble, s t a r g a z e, for their collaborative album, "ARONE x S T A R G A Z E." Out 1st December via Transgressive in collaboration with Brassland, the album is announced alongside the mesmerizing and kinetic lead single “Define”.
A project years in the making, “ARONE x S T A R G A Z E” sees Arone Dyer - a founding member of the uncategorizable and critically acclaimed duo Buke and Gase – working with the 13-member European orchestral collective s t a r g a z e - founded in Berlin by contemporary-classical heavy-hitters André de Ridder, Emanuel Florakis and Merle Scheske. Together they have created a genre-hopping triple crossover ranging from indie to avant-garde pop to modern classical.
Featuring diverse and eclectic songs written by Arone Dyer between 2016-2021, the album is a deep, intricate, and captivating journey into the mind of a musician who has evolved from a underground buzz artist into an icon for a new generation of genre-agnostic artists . The lead single, "Define," offers a first glimpse. Melding polyrhythmic strings, percussion, and orchestral flourishes, which Dyer’s lush vocals twist and weave around, there’s a careful attention to space across the track allowing each of the individual encapsulating elements to march to the top as the track builds towards its climax.
Speaking on the themes behind the single, Dyer says it was “a quick-n-easy-down-n-dirty-flurry of sexual expression for me, which isn't something I tend to do with Buke and Gase. I kept thinking about how much phones are integrated into relationships now, I think at the time many of my closest friends were on tinder or some other dating app, so there was a lot of talk about the ickiness of sizing someone up so quickly by a photo - swipe right or left and you’ve made your decision. I think this way of communicating and moving through the pool of sexual possibility is excessive and confusing”.
The story behind the “ARONE x S T A R G A Z E” album is a testament to the power of creative collaboration. In addition to her work in Buke and Gase –recently the subject of a self-titled new concert film and documentary, featuring Aaron Dessner, Laurie Anderson, and other famous fans - Dyer is serial collaborator with an extensive resume on her own. She founded another duo Mistresses, and is the producer of Dronechoir, a project which examines social dis/comfort through long-durational choral performance. Arone’s work has received worldwide acclaim, and she has performed in concert on four continents. The European classical-contemporary ensemble s t a r g a z e first encountered her at Haldern Pop festival in Germany and were instantly blown away by her voice and presence.
Having previously released almost a half-dozen albums on Transgressive Records, s t a r g a z e have worked with everyone from Nils Frahm to Owen Pallett, Poliça, Julia Holter, Villagers, Matthew Herbert, Iceage, Nik Void, Terry Riley, Lisa Hannigan and Deerhoof, and have performed works by Mica Levi, Bryce Dessner, Nicole Lizee and Qasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi). The collective has been invited by the BBC Proms (David Bowie Tribute in 2016), the Holland Festival, Edinburgh International and Rewire Festivals, and performs regularly at the Barbican London, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Muziekgebouw aan't IJ Amsterdam.
The ensemble is also part of the somewhat legendary PEOPLE movement/festival created in Berlin with members of The National and Bon Iver, which is where they met Dyer for the second time and first arranged and collaborated on her solo compositions. Those sessions ignited a small but enduring light flickering in the back of their minds: perhaps one day they could make an album together... They reached out to other in the middle of 2020, when it became clear that there wasn't going to be much performing or touring possible any time soon; the pandemic hiatus became a creative opportunity for their collaborative project.
A Kickstarter campaign funded a trip to Europe for Arone where instrumentals were recorded at Wisseloord Studios in Hilversum, Netherlands by Sam Jones & Ira Helfferich. She later recorded vocals at Polyphonic Workshop in Hudson, NY, by Aron Sanchez, Dyer’s longtime collaborator and bandmate in Buke and Gase.
Dyer reflects on the album's themes, stating, "For me, the fact that the instrumentation is comprised of unamplified analog one-to-one-human-powered instruments traditionally reserved for classical music, plus the occasional electronic balustrade, is theme enough for me. Lyrically, my context is all over the place as I compiled work from 2016-2021 and have had many personal ups and downs through that time." The album's cover artwork, created by Lily Morris, complements the music's duality, evoking feelings of strength, vulnerability, and purpose for Dyer.
Each song on the album finds Dyer conjuring a very specific mindset or personal moment. For instance, "It's Over" delves into the intricate facets of relationships, with Dyer reflecting on the five key factors that her father told her can make or break a partnership: “family, work, money, politics/spirituality, and activity.” The song's sparseness carries a profound emotional weight, echoing the challenges of communication and acceptance in the face of impending decisions. Elsewhere, tracks such as the classical inchworm march “Sugar Friend” explores the experience of dealing with an entitled friend and realising the importance of setting boundaries to avoid being mistreated, ultimately reflecting on the bittersweet aftermath of the friendship. “Don’t Say” tackles anger at wealth disparities, whilst “Spider Practical” represents the resilience and adaptability, likening humanities delicate complexities to that of a beautiful spider’s web. The album also pays homage to Dyer’s late mother in "Carwash," a poignant memory of their time together.
Musically, the album draws across a wide pool of influences from PJ Harvey’s “Man-Size Sextet” to Natalie Holt’s soundtrack work, right through to Led Zeppelin, St Vincent, Fever Ray, and even Greg Saunier’s collaboration with s t a r g a z e covering Fugazi’s In On The Killtaker. Dyer describes it aptly as something “Lou Reed and Mozart would probably have enjoyed in the bardo”, likening a much of it to soundtrack work.
Where the pandemic brought much of the population’s world to a halt, it gave Dyer and s t a r g a z e the space and encouragement to go back and compile smatterings of work from as far back as seven years ago. The result is a musical odyssey that defies pigeonholing, balancing both outfits proclivity for uninhibited experimentation and collaboration, to the point that the tracks and their meanings are still evolving as the work comes to finally be released. Dyer explains, "since the music was completed without audience participation, in other words, since I’ve rarely performed these tunes in public, it has been impossible to separate these juxtaposed sentiments. I hope to find the overarching motif through the process of performing and adapting to it in the coming year."