Damiana Vines

Release date:
July 16, 2021
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Natalie Chami and Whitney Johnson perform as a duo under the name Damiana. Both artists have built their own catalogs as multi-instrumentalist improvisers and composers in the Chicago experimental scene, exploring the intersections between ambient, electro-acoustic improv, and more legible songcraft based around their voices and their work with synths and electronics -- all filtered through their backgrounds in classical performance and education. Chami's solo recordings under the TALsounds moniker have appeared on labels such as NNA Tapes, and Ba Da Bing!, and her collaborative projects include the trio Good Willsmith. Johnson has released a series of solo LPs as Matchess on the label Trouble in Mind, and has contributed to recordings and live performances by Ryley Walker, Circuit Des Yeux, and Tortoise's 20th anniversary performances of TNT, among other artists. After meeting in the early 2010s, Chami and Johnson embarked on multiple US tours together, and their informal duo collaborations naturally crystallized over time into the Damiana project The duo's debut album Vines presents their first recordings after years of live sets and home recording sessions. The album strikes a balance between the realms of deliberate compositional sculpting and free-form improvisation, as Damiana's evolving sessions of looping synth phrases and harmonized vocal lines emphasize austere beauty and meditation as much as spectral disorientation and instrumental complexity. While the tracks on Vines create the illusion at any given moment of a standing cloud, often colored by Johnson's lush viola and Chami's effect-manipulated electronics, a zoomed out perspective of each session reveals an undulating story arc with contrasting emotional resonances and constantly shifting timbral focus. Treading the line between transportive stasis and upward motion, the duo has honed their sense of when to push forward with a new texture or melodic flourish without disrupting the atmospheres that they meticulously build together. A1) Wrap The Sky A2) Melted Reach B1) Sunken Lupine B2) Under An Aster

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