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Rio En Medio


Freak-folk, acid-folk, nothing fits the bill more than Danielle Stech-Homsy’s RIO EN MEDIO and her revolving door of musical contributors; the moniker comes from the Spanish for river in between. Born in northern New Mexico and living in Brooklyn, she befriended Sierra Casady (of indie/electro duo, CoCoROSIE), which, in turn, led to a meeting with DEVENDRA BANHART, who almost immediately signed her to his Gnomonsong label.
Delicate and almost detached from pop music, the artist’s off-kilter approach (somewhat akin to VASHTI BUNYAN, LINDA PERHACS and JOANNA NEWSOM), was evident on a solo CDr “Songs For Santa Ynez” (2003), consisting of 9 untitled tracks (she plays baritone ukulele). Many modern folk artists of this era had to be content with self-releasing their material on CDr; the awe-inspiring “A Bride’s Guide To Waiting Music” (2004) was no exception.
More importantly, the RIO EN MEDIO debut set proper, THE BRIDE OF DYNAMITE {*7}, was finally delivered in 2007 and containing a handful of songs from her previous effort(s). Bathed in ethereal soundscapes and trippy instrumentation, most of the songs are set to words and poetry from the likes of Ellen M. H. Gates (on eerie opener, `You Can Stand’), William Blake (on `Europe A Prophecy’), Paul Eluard (on the French-sung `Liberte’), Freya Stark (on `The Baghdad Merchant’s Son’) and John Ashbery (on `Girls On The Run’). Oddball and wispy, Stech-Homsy’s shy vocals depicted an air of ghostly parallels to ancient mountain chanters, although most of her spooky cues (with the exception of `Joe Was On The Plane’, `Everyone Is Someone’s’ and `I See The Star’) were out there on another planet.
Not one to be pigeonholed, Danielle recorded two “disco” songs – EARTH, WIND & FIRE’s `Let’s Groove’ and the BEE GEES’ `Staying Alive’ – ever so discreetly in a Montreal hotel room; one has said “folk ‘n’ disco” before, but not in the context of the limited-edition 45 that was to be subsequently issued.
Released initially on vinyl-only, FRONTIER (2008) {*7} again combined her folksy wispas with folktronica “art”mospherics. Opener `Heartless’ suggested oblique technoid meanderings against pop sensibilities – think GOLDFRAPP on folk pills – but what stole the show was the lo-fi-folk acoustics of `Ferris’, `Standing Horses’ and the title track. Of the CD released the following year, forget the “Another Green World” antics of closing 8 minutes `The Visitor’.
Dispatched in February 2013, PEACE SEQUENCE {*7} was exactly what the title portrayed; lilting dream pop layered with fragile female harmonies – all by dazey Danielle herself. Casting a spell on lovers of bewitching folk music to singer-songwriter psychedelia, she shines like a star on `Storykeepers’, `Mountains Of The Moon’, `Lady Leaf Paradise’, et al. Symbolic bells and brooms on a pure white sleeve conjure up bewitching images within, and released on her own Womens Work Recordings, she was accompanied on this occasion by koto master Shoko Hikage and the dulcet tonage of multi-instrumentalist Nathan Shineywater (of Brightback Morning Light, Library Of Sands).
From Owl Camp, California and Butcher Shoppe, Nashville, to Menorca, Spain (all recording stages for linguist Danielle), the cosmic thread of 2015’s RIO EN MEDIO RADIO {*7} rounded up some familiar faces to accompany her in session: drummer Terry Cox (ex-PENTANGLE), bassist Dave Roe (ex-JOHNNY CASH & The Tennessee Three) and the aforementioned Shineywater; not forgetting 90-something George Flynn (ex-chauffeur for HANK WILLIAMS) on harmonica. In among several self-penned songs from openers `Farther’ and `Marigolds: A Scattering’ to closing titles `This Old Town Heart’ and `Feels Like’, Stech-Homsy weaved her organic prowess on trad/cover pieces, `Come Back Baby’, `Darlin’ Corey’, `Sera Pasai (Evening Song)’ – sung in Italian – and Y Deryn Du (The Blackbird)’.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Apr2015-Oct2018

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