‘It felt like we left the physical realm’: Danielle Whalebone’s noise poetry reaches new heights on Whispers of Shadows

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‘It felt like we left the physical realm’: Danielle Whalebone’s noise poetry reaches new heights on Whispers of Shadows

Danielle Whalebone
Words by Nicole Smith

In a culture where profit is often valued over creativity, where audiences are fed small snippets of content for their shortening attention spans, true artistry is an increasingly rare trait.

Songwriter and poet Danielle Whalebone, known for her critically acclaimed albums Milk Teeth and Tonic Clonic reveals her latest musical venture, Whispers of Shadows.

Her latest creation lays a series of spoken word poems over noise guitar. Described as “an avant-garde journey and compelling narrative full of emotive, heartfelt honesty”. This release is a symbol of Whalebone’s artistic evolution, from writing simple riffs to using a bow on an electric guitar.

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Whalebone describes the spoken word album as “art for art’s sake” that “reflects on one’s child self, reveals a desire for connection and the sense of isolation that arose from lockdown”. 

The work was born out of an improvised session at Birdland Studios with guitarist Francesco Manuse. “When the structured studio session finished, we turned all the lights down. The engineer kept recording and we just improvised, it felt like we left the physical realm. We had a transportive moment”.

“Even though I am constantly writing, during lockdown I set myself the goal of completing an unfinished poem every day for a month”. Inspired by French poets Rimbaud and Baudelaire, Whalebone fine-tuned and edited her poetry to convey emotion in as few words as possible.

Listening to the recording of the impromptu session, different emotions were revealed in the playing of the guitars, creating a soundscape of sorts. Whalebone reflects “It suddenly became clear this was the next project. I set about matching the nuances in the music to spoken word.” 

Whalebone was inspired to transform her cupboard into a vocal recording booth during lockdown. “I wanted to recreate the pressure of the studio completing the recordings in as few takes as possible”.

Whalebone intended for the release to be listened to in its entirety, having a distinct beginning, middle and end. Each track is a window into Whalebone’s introspective world, where her poetic verses become a mirror reflecting our collective experiences.

“The piece weaves together themes of reflecting on self, the past, home, freedom and space.” The journey came full circle with the album’s completion back at Birdland Studios. 

Producer Lindsay Gravina contributes a rich layer of complexity and aural sophistication to the album. Whispers of Shadows features the use of a technique called klangfarbenmelodie (which translates to sound-colour melody) it involves splitting a melody between instruments and harks back to the industrial sound movement in Berlin.

The track Ordinary Things explores the “intense feeling of solitude”, being broken wide open with a desire for peace. Through the Keyhole meditates on being locked inside and having to look deeply inside ourselves.

The final track Recollection of Youth evokes a feeling of freedom, of open plains and the sounds of nature. “It is the natural progression of experimentation,” she tells me.

Whispers of Shadows marks a pivotal evolution in Whalebone’s musical career. “I feel like a painter with a new palette. Using samples, percussion and rhythms, I have started thinking about what another project would sound like if it was refined and structured from the beginning. I’m excited for the growth, development, and vulnerability to come.” 

For Whalebone, Whispers of Sounds symbolises the beginning of something new and a world of possibility.

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This article was made in partnership with Danielle Whalebone.