Chamber pop and folk rock singer Noah Kite is set to unveil his second full-length record on Friday, February 17 at the Alberta Street Pub, celebrating both a birthday and the culmination of several years abroad in the release of this self-titled effort. Accompanied by the English horn and oboe work of guest musician Laura Gershman, the passionately minimalist songwriter erupts on this album—and there may be no better introduction than "Lucifern," where steady handclaps and strummed guitar strings lull you into complacency before the whole beautifully orchestrated concoction explodes in a supernova that succinctly fades back into the calmness of the intro, all over the course of six and a half epic minutes.
While each of Kite's new songs contain interesting stories of inspiration and creation—from teaching in Parisian elementary schools to the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo ("Charlie Weakly"—watch a stripped-down acoustic version below) to sleeping "on the cold floor of The Map Room" as "we [Kite and engineer Matt Thomson] made this thing happen"—let's focus on just one of the eight, number seven to be exact.
"'Lucifern' is about the body/mind of my ex-girlfriend and how I was relating to those through memory and an iPhone from 5,000 miles away," Kite begins.
"She has a tattoo of the word 'Luciferin,' which is the compound that emits light in creatures that are bioluminescent, and her name was Bryony, which is an English/European climbing weed," Kite says of his ex-girlfriend. "So I dropped the 'i' and the title is half what exudes light or brings it ('Luci') and half what seeks and eats it ('fern'). An ouroboros in words, kinda. She was self-sustaining in that sort of way too. She had many freckles and some moles, much like cigarette burns, or a negative of a night sky seen from the city, or a well-done cheese pizza fresh out of the oven, blistering in places (which obviously is less poetic than the other two).
"I wrote this song on a classical guitar I bought from the Puces de Vanves, a flea market on the southern tip of Paris," he continues. "I wrote it in the Marais when my parents came to visit while I was teaching English in the suburbs. Different guitars speak to you differently—the harmonics emphasized or produced by certain woods, or age, or size all lead the ear in different directions—and this '60s French classical guitar had a clarity in the low end that made those chords sound very pretty and creepy to me. And the song is creepy. Hell, she was creepy.
"I wrote this song four months into being 5,000 miles away from her with four more months to go. As with some of the other songs on the record, it is an exploration of a question that distance put in perspective for me: How much of this relationship is physical, and how much is something deeper? How much has that physicality distracted me from other parts of her? I'm 5,000 miles away and we're staying in a committed relationship. What is the real motive for that?"
At the end of "Lucifern," hear "a fucking awesome hurt" in the vocals of Nika States (who performs as Red Steppes) as she provides harmonies that "really embody the frustrations and profound solitude I was experiencing in France at the time," he explains. "I get this weird cry every time that crescendo hits. It's not sadness, but kinda like a giddy relief in that we managed to convey what I wanted to about such a complicated time and feeling."