San Fermin Share New Album 'The Cormorant I'
Brooklyn-based art pop project SAN FERMIN today release their new album THE CORMORANT I via Better Company, bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone's new imprint under Sony Music Masterworks. Envisioned as the first of a two-part album release, The Cormorant I ushers in a new era for San Fermin and sets the tone for the overall project, which will include an eventual counterpart to be released next year. Described by Ludwig-Leone as both a "stand-alone narrative in itself" as well as "the first piece of a larger two-part story," The Cormorant I is available everywhere now.
Also making its debut today is San Fermin's newest video for "Saints," a surreal visual that follows vocalist Claire Wellin on a sleepless night spent within the confines of her bedroom - watch below.
Taking place in the ordinary yet enchanted spaces of childhood, The Cormorant I centers on the tension between growing up and longing for innocence. Paired with a storybook grandeur that entwines the real and the mythic, The Cormorant I invites listeners on a trip of willful delusion, described by Ludwig-Leone as, "creating fictions from your life as a way to deal with a more complicated reality."
"The Cormorant I starts with a visit from a strange bird, a death augur, which haunts two characters throughout their lives," he notes of the album's namesake. "The track listing is chronological: the first few songs are about childhood, while the later tracks follow the characters into their more complicated adult lives. Finally, the last song imagines the return of the bird and their eventual deaths."
After writing most of the music in Ísafjörður, Iceland, Ludwig-Leone returned to Brooklyn and sculpted the record's rich sonic landscape with the help of his bandmates: vocalist Allen Tate, vocalist/violinist Claire Wellin, trumpet player John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, percussionist Michael Hanf, and guitarists Tyler McDiarmid and Aki Ishiguro, as well as a cast of new collaborators, including Attacca Quartet and harpist Lavinia Meijer.
In that process, San Fermin dreamed up a two-part album of kinetic and spellbinding movement, spinning a deliberately wayward narrative that follows its two main characters from their earliest years, with Tate portraying the male protagonist while the album's female perspective is provided by a revolving cast of vocalists, including Wellin, Karlie Bruce (a new addition to the touring group), Sarah Pedinotti (of Lip Talk), and Samia Finnerty (of Samia).
"The second part is like the fever dream, upside-down response to Part I," Ludwig-Leone explains of the eventual paired album release. "The jumps between the past and present are more jagged, and memories are subjected to a more critical eye. As I was writing, I was thinking a lot about how memories change over time- the stories you tell yourself and the actual events aren't always in synch."
The album's lead single "The Hunger" is one of the most thrillingly urgent tracks, illuminating the inner dialogue fundamental to dating in the modern age. Moving from lonesomeness to angst to glorious self-lionization with pure conviction, "The Hunger" was named one of the best new releases of the week by TIME, UPROXX, Under The Radar and WNYC's New Sounds. The single's June debut also included a companion music video, available now to watch. Most recently, the group also debuted an acoustic version of the track.
Meanwhile, San Fermin's follow-up single "The Living" details a seemingly futile search for late-night connection in the city, a pursuit that becomes increasingly intensified by the track's heartbeat-like rhythms. Of the track, Ludwig-Leone says, "So much of what we do is this willful tricking of our own minds in order to feel something. 'The Living' is about a very common version of that, getting too drunk and wandering around the city at night, trying to feel like part of something bigger than yourself. There's a sense that some profound moment is always right around the corner, but somehow it never quite comes into focus."
The album's opener and title track "The Cormorant" takes its name from a snake-like seabird, which acts as a thematic omen of life and death throughout the album's narrative. "The first song is a wake-up call, with this ominous bird that says: 'Show me the people and the things that mattered in your life, because now you're going to die,'" Ludwig-Leone explains. "It's a high-stakes way to start an album, but it jumpstarts this crazy myth that spins out from there." The Cormorant rushes forward with a fever-dream intensity, endlessly slipping between hazy memory and real-time reflection. On "Cerulean Gardens," for instance, San Fermin offer a stark meditation on what Ludwig-Leone refers to as "getting older and realizing you're starting to deviate from your parents' narrative," with Tate's warm vocals channeling a loving nostalgia. Several songs later, on "Summer by the Void," that looking-back shapeshifts into a deeply sensory reminiscence of teenage romance. ("I wanted it to sound like summer outside of the house I grew up in," Ludwig-Leone says, "so I ended up sitting in this freezing-cold room in Iceland, making these absurd noises into a microphone to try to replicate the sound of cicadas.") Elsewhere, "Saints" reveals the quiet hostilities in cohabitation, and on "The Myth," San Fermin close out The Cormorant I with a hushed confession of existential uncertainty ("I would sing for my life/If I knew the words").
The Cormorant I arrives just ahead of a three-month run of North American tour dates. Kicking off October 16 at Concord, NH's Capitol Center for the Arts, the tour will continue before a hometown finale set for December 6 at New York's Brooklyn Steel. Additional dates will be announced. For complete details and ticket information, please visit www.sanferminband.com/tour.
SAN FERMIN - THE CORMORANT I
1. The Cormorant
2. Cerulean Gardens
3. Hickman Creek
4. The Hunger
5. Summer by the Void
7. The Living
8. The Myth
SAN FERMIN - NORTH AMERICAN TOUR 2019
**ADDITIONAL DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED**
16 - Concord, NH - Bank of New Hampshire Stage
17 - Boston, MA - The Sinclair
18 - Montreal, QC - Fairmount
19 - Toronto, ON - The Mod Club
20 - Pittsburgh, PA - Thunderbird Music Hall
22 - Grand Rapids, MI - Pyramid Scheme
23 - Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall Ballroom
25 - Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall
26 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Hall
27 - Winnipeg, MB - Park Theater
29 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite Ballroom
30 - Calgary, AB - Commonwealth
1 - Vancouver, BC - New Hollywood Theater
2 - Seattle, WA - Neumo's
3 - Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
7 - San Francisco, CA - August Hall
8 - Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room
9 - Phoenix, AZ - Valley Bar
10 - Santa Fe, NM - Meow Wolf
13 - Denver, CO - Globe Hall
15 - Dallas, TX - Kessler Theater
16 - Austin, TX - Mohawk
17 - Houston, TX - Heights Theater
19 - Atlanta, GA - Aisle 5
20 - Carrboro, NC - The ArtsCenter
22 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club
23 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
6 - Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Steel