Complete Mountain Almanac reveals the creative process for their self-titled album

As Complete Mountain Almanac, Rebekka Karijord and Jessica Dessner wrote a song for every month of the year – with help from the latter’s notable siblings in our FEBRUARY 2023 issue of Uncut, available for purchase here.

Jessica Dessner some of the credit for the success of The National. “There is a long tradition, since adolescence, of me playing songs for my brothers that I think they should like”, says the poet, dancer, artist and sister of the twin guitarists in that band. Bryce and Aaron. “I remember in early interviews they used to credit their older punk sisters playing stuff, and my punk boyfriends showing up.
to teach them how to play the drums.”

When Dessner started collaborating with the Norwegian singer-songwriter based in Stockholm Rebekka Karijord, it was time for her to ask a favor in return. “In 2018 we were all together at the from Aaron home for Christmas, and I said, ‘Listen, there’s a project I want to tell you about.’ I played a few demos and they both got ‘the look’. I know the look! At the end I said, ‘Would you like to be a part of this?’ It happened organically. Also, there’s a big sister element telling the siblings what to do! Nowadays it is rare for me to do that, but if I can use it, I will…”

It’s easy to hear because the Dessner the brothers have “the look”. matching from Jessica poetry with the music and melodies of Karijord, Complete Mountain Almanac is an intimate and immersive blend of folk, classical and chamber music. Its 12 songs, one for each month of the year, address decay and healing, both global and personal.

The project had a prolonged gestation. Friends since the 2000s, karijord contacted Dessner in 2016 after struggling with the idea of ​​writing “a record about climate change. I thought it would just be instrumental, but I thought it was too abstract, too big to understand. I contacted Jessica and said, ‘Do you want to try writing something for this project?’ She said yes right away and we started emailing each other.”

Momentum then stopped while Dessner processed a diagnosis of breast cancer. “Rebeca very graciously left me alone during the most intense part of it,” she says. “At some point, she sent me a little note saying that if I wanted to use the project to address what I was going through in terms of health, she would be totally open to it. I couldn’t commit to anything, but I had that in mind.”

Eight months later, karijord visited Dessner at his home in the countryside of northern Italy. “Jessica handed me this 40 page manuscript called Complete Mountain Almanac and said, ‘It’s all yours.’ She was able to express exactly what I wanted to say but in a much more personal way. There is a synergy between cancer in our natural world, our attack on ourselves, and the essence of a person going through illness, the body attacking itself. She managed to tie those things together. I freely took what stood out to me and sent him demos.

With schedules aligned, songs were recorded in Paris in early 2020, just before lockdown. Used to working alone, karijord she put aside her usual “control freak,” as well as one rule: “I wanted all the songs to be done live, just me and the two brothers playing,” she says. Minimalist overdubs were added later along with string arrangements written by Bryce and performed by Malmö Symphony Orchestra, “but the fundamentals must be lived with all the flaws and love and advantage. And I wanted to record it chronologically. ‘January’ is the first take we did together in the studio. That week was one of the most intense and inspiring I’ve ever had.”

karijord is planning live shows with the twins, and she and Jessica are already discussing a new collaboration. “We are talking about the next one”, says Dessner. “We need some time to let this one land, so we’ll see where we go.”

Complete Mountain Almanac will be released on January 27th via Bella Union.

Complete Mountain Almanac reveals the creative process for their self-titled album

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top