In the ever-evolving landscape of fusion styles and genre-bending acts, few occurrences stir the pot of excitement quite like an album premiere. This time, we have the distinct honor of bringing you an early listen to “Rancor:Succor,” the latest offering from San Francisco-based drone/ethereal artist ChiaraOscuro. Set to hit the airwaves and digital shelves tomorrow, September 29, we’re thrilled to provide our readers an exclusive listen today. You can also order the album at this link.
A collaboration with the ever-innovative Nefarious Industries, the album will be available in digital format, but for those seeking something a tad more tactile, there’s also a limited box set edition—capped at just 100 units.
The inception of “Rancor:Succor” signifies a pivotal moment in ChiaraOscuro’s artistic evolution. Initially conceived during the rehearsal sessions for her debut EP, the album serves as a gateway into a new phase of her creative, emotional, and spiritual development. As ChiaraOscuro navigated through the older constructs of her artistry, shedding what no longer served her, a fresh and nuanced direction came to light.
Regarding her unique vocal stylings, ChiaraOscuro admits, “I operate on instinct and intuition. I see how the vocals want to come out and trust what feels right.” The organic, freestyle approach she employs in her songwriting serves as fertile ground for her voice to evolve naturally, lending both complexity and simplicity to her compositions. In this respect, ChiaraOscuro achieves a balance of vocal tones, adding layers of intricacy to the auditory experience.
The unconventional recording location of the album further contributes to its unique aural qualities. Known as the TANK, this repurposed seven-story steel water tank located in rural Colorado played a crucial role in shaping the album’s distinct sound. “Ever since I learned about The TANK, I was intrigued and knew I wanted to record there,” ChiaraOscuro shares. Armed with her “drone-ified” accordion—a vintage instrument revamped with modern pickups and guitar pedals—she was able to create some truly original sounds that shape the character of “Rancor:Succor.”
For ChiaraOscuro, the TANK is more than a mere recording space; it is an active participant in the creation of the music. “One of the most striking aspects of The TANK is that it really becomes a collaborator—it’s not just a space, it’s an instrument all unto itself. Besides the otherworldly reverb, the floor’s curve created by the shale in the earth below affects pitch in some interesting ways,” she elaborates.
ChiaraOscuro views the album-making process as a journey of self-discovery that enables her to delve deeper into various facets of her craft. “Each time that I’ve worked on an album, it has taught me so much about so many things—songcraft, technique, production, acoustics, aesthetics,” she explains. With “Rancor:Succor,” ChiaraOscuro feels that she has once again expanded the boundaries of what she can accomplish as an artist, setting a new bar for herself and enriching the genre she occupies.
Linking up with Nefarious Industries marked a significant turn in ChiaraOscuro’s musical journey. In her collaboration with the label, she has particularly valued the relentless encouragement and backing from Greg Meisenberg, the label’s head honcho. “Nefarious Industries is fearless about supporting artists who are making authentic, interesting music,” ChiaraOscuro states. This commitment to unfiltered artistry finds a perfect match in her own artistic objectives.
The alignment of visions between the artist and the label has paved the way for some creative endeavors outside the realm of mere audio recordings. The limited edition of the “Rancor:Succor” album goes beyond the auditory experience, featuring a unique art booklet and hand-drawn poster. The project also includes a brief avant-garde film that functions as the album’s trailer, directed by Bobby Cochran and edited by Alexandra Banhazl, further showcasing ChiaraOscuro’s multifaceted artistry.
For those eager to experience ChiaraOscuro’s spellbinding sound in a live setting, you’re in luck. Shortly following the release of “Rancor:Succor,” she will be embarking on a string of tour dates. The live performances promise an up-close look at the artist’s creative evolution, accentuated by collaborations and support acts that echo her innovative spirit.
Here’s a rundown of the tour stops:
October 7th, Los Angeles: ChiaraOscuro takes the stage with cellist accompanist Randall Holt. The evening’s additional allure comes from support act Joy Shannon, all happening at the intriguingly named venue, Where Monsters Dream.
October 9th, Oakland: Randall Holt continues as the cellist accompanist for this Bay Area event. Jessica Way and Emily Jane White join as the evening’s supporting artists at The Golden Bull.
October 12th, Portland: The Star Theater will host ChiaraOscuro and Randall Holt, with SORIAH.
October 15th, Seattle: Closing this stretch of dates at The Rabbit Box, ChiaraOscuro and Randall Holt will share the stage with Latona Odola.