Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Includes PDF sleeve-note booklet with poems (lyrics), woodcut illustrations, photographs, digital art, story, thanks, and credits.
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Record/Vinyl + Digital Album
Lathe-cut blue vinyl cut by Corey Bauer/Cryptic Carousel featuring two tracks from Frost: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Onset." Art includes woodcut illustrations by J.J. Lankes and design by Kent Swecker.
Includes unlimited streaming of Frost
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Before man came to blow it right
The wind once blew itself untaught,
And did its loudest day and night
In any rough place where it caught.
Man came to tell it what was wrong:
It hadn’t found the place to blow;
It blew too hard — the aim was song.
And listen — how it ought to go!
He took a little in his mouth,
And held it long enough for north
To be converted into south,
And then by measure blew it forth.
By measure. It was word and note,
The wind the wind had meant to be —
A little through the lips and throat.
The aim was song — the wind could see.
The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.
In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.
No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.
From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.
A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go
And miles to go
And miles to go before I sleep.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
It was long I lay
Awake that night
Wishing the tower
Would name the hour
And tell me whether
To call it day
(Though not yet light)
And give up sleep.
The snow fell deep
With the hiss of spray;
Two winds would meet,
One down one street,
One down another,
And fight in a smother
Of dust and feather.
I could not say,
But feared the cold
Had checked the pace
Of the tower clock
By tying together
Its hands of gold
Before its face.
Then came one knock!
A note unruffled
Of earthly weather,
Though strange and muffled.
The tower said, “One!”
And then a steeple.
They spoke to themselves
And such few people
As winds might rouse
From sleeping warm
(But not unhouse).
They left the storm
That struck en masse
My window glass
Like a beaded fur.
In that grave One
They spoke of the sun
And moon and stars,
Saturn and Mars
Still more unfettered,
They left the named
And spoke of the lettered,
The sigmas and taus
They filled their throats
With the furthest bodies
To which man sends his
Beyond which God is;
The cosmic motes
Of yawning lenses.
Their solemn peals
Were not their own:
They spoke for the clock
With whose vast wheels
In that grave word
The utmost star
Trembled and stirred,
Though set so far
Its whirling frenzies
Appear like standing
In one self station.
It has not ranged,
And save for the wonder
Of once expanding
To be a nova,
It has not changed
To the eye of man
On planets over
Around and under
It in creation
Since man began
To drag down man
And nation nation.
“My poems . . . are all set to trip the reader head foremost into the boundless. Ever since infancy I have had the habit of leaving my blocks carts chairs and such like ordinaries where people would be pretty sure to fall forward over them in the dark. Forward, you understand, and in the dark.”
I conceived Frost in early 2019, when I took up piano and music-theory lessons with musician and producer Tim Carless, who’d just produced my debut album, Hollow. As part of our explorations of diatonic harmony, Pythagorean tuning, and modal music, Tim asked me to write songs based on exercises he assigned me. In composing my songs, I wanted to focus on learning music theory versus writing words (which takes me forever), so I looked for poetry that I could easily repurpose into song lyrics. That’s when I learned that Robert Frost’s Pulitzer Prize–winning book New Hampshire had just entered the public domain.
I knew little about Frost’s poetry, save for a glancing familiarity with “The Road Not Taken,” “Fire and Ice,” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” My sense was that his poems, though brilliantly written, probably weren’t for me. To my ears, Frost’s lines sounded too plainspoken, too filled with stories about his New England neighbors, too specifically American. But my desire for poetic lyrics led me to check out an original 1923 edition of his book New Hampshire from the library, just to see whether any of its poems would suit.
I was pleased to find “Fire and Ice” and “Stopping by Woods” in the book, alongside a few stark and wintry poems that intrigued me. I was especially taken with “Dust of Snow,” which told of a transformative moment its narrator experienced under a hemlock tree. I decided to try the poem’s brief lines as lyrics for my first modal composition, which at that point I was calling “Pythagoras for Mice” because whenever I played it on the piano, mice in the attic would get excited and start scurrying around overhead. My singing of Frost’s words did not seem to dampen their enthusiasm for the song.
In all, I set six poems from New Hampshire to music. As I sang each song and committed them to memory, I began to perceive deeper shades of meaning in their lines. They took root inside my mind and heart and began to grow, and I realized that Frost was not as straightforward as he initially seemed.
I intended to record the songs as an EP that year, but life had other ideas. My estranged father died, and when I got home from his memorial service, I discovered that my main source of consulting income was gone, which meant no money for recording, or for much else. My life basically fell apart, and I shelved the recording project by necessity. Then the pandemic arrived. This ushered in a new, DIY way of working—also by necessity—which helped lead to an experimental foray into ambient and noise music. During lockdown, I learned how to record, mix, and produce my own music as I moved away from lyrics-based compositions toward wordless, textural sonic explorations that seemed to better fit the nebulosity of the time.
For all these reasons, the Frost songs wound up sitting on a shelf for several years, and I almost didn’t record them. I couldn’t seem to find a way to align them with where my music was headed; but neither would they seem to let me go. A few people, especially my husband, asked if I would record them and hoped aloud that I would. I wondered if there was a way to reinvigorate the music, or at least my own enthusiasm for it, by creating new, additional tracks for the album that were inspired by other poems in the book. Was it possible to set ambient music and noise improvisations next to more traditional-sounding piano and voice compositions? Could music from the past live beside sonics that suggest the future? I began to hope that looking at the present from these two directions at once would make the album’s shape become clearer.
As I considered how to make Frost, I read more deeply in New Hampshire, along with some of Frost’s letters and lectures on writing. I read about Frost himself: about how his witty and charismatic social disposition differed greatly from his more reserved, starchy writer persona; about the many mental illnesses and deaths in his immediate family; about his self-confidence and his sorrow. I read about how most people misread “The Road Not Taken.” The more I read, the more I felt as though I was falling forward in the dark.
In the dark, I found graveyards, apple orchards, and steeple bells. I found two witches and an attic full of bones. I found a man who set his farmhouse on fire for the insurance money, which he used to buy a telescope to “satisfy a life-long curiosity / about our place among the infinities.” He named the telescope “the Star-splitter.” I found Saturn and Mars and Jupiter. I found cosmic wonder juxtaposed with all-too-human society. I fell forward into what this album became, stumbling in the dark all the way.
my patrons—for your generous direct support of my art, which makes living as a musician more sustainable—thank you, thank you, thank you, dear friends!
Jack Chuter—for your brilliant audio mastering, big ears, and thoughtful company—I learned so much as we worked together, and I delighted in our musical conversations along the way
Wes Naman—for sweating it out with me in a ballet studio on a 100-degree summer day to create wintry, beautiful images for this album—your art is dreamy gorgeous, and I loved hanging out with you
Kent Swecker—for your quick, keen designs, your humor, and your generosity—I loved working with you, as always
Corey Bauer—for your sweet, sweet vinyl cuts and awesome service
the audio angels on freesound.org—for sharing your field recordings for remixing via the creative commons—many thanks for your contributions to this album
readers of Auspices, community on Bandcamp, show attendees, and listeners across the globe—for your company and fellowship, which lifts my wings and energizes my creativity
my music mates, friends, family, and goddesses—for your kindness, love, and presence—I’m deeply grateful for you
Ted Johnson and John Shannon—for lessons in ones and zeros, mAs and dBs, signal paths, effects pedals, and sonic spacewalking
Tim Carless—for encouraging me to record and produce my own music and for endless piano assignments (“Good. Now arrange your song in two more keys.”)—miss you, mate
Lynn A. Robinson—for my first piano lessons as a child, for your gift of a beautiful keyboard, and for supporting me through all my years with presence, encouragement, and love
Robert Frost—for your “lover’s quarrel with the world,” which has utterly changed me
Brent Winter—for making my heart sing and this album possible
PUBLISHING—Music written and published by Angela Winter (ASCAP); lyrics by Robert Frost
PERFORMANCES—Piano, vocals, synths, and field recordings by Angela Winter; additional field recordings by freesound.org contributors: Christopher C. Courter (The Star-Splitter); lwdickens (Dust of Snow); Barry Gusey, Fractal Studios, and T.E.C. Studios (Fire and Ice); and Florian Reichelt (The Onset, I Will Sing You One-O)
VINYL—Lathe cut by Corey Bauer, Cryptic Carousel, Remy, NY
DESIGN—Woodcut illustrations by J. J. Lankes; cover art and vinyl package design by Kent Swecker, A New Machine, Raleigh, NC
Angela Winter creates music like you might hear at a Renaissance fair during the apocalypse—minimalist synths and strings
meet otherworldly vocals, shimmering drones, and overtones. Her work has been featured on radio from Asheville to Australia. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, and in addition to her own shows and festival performances, she has opened for John Cale (The Velvet Underground)....more