When dreaming, the mind meanders through all sorts of unconscious avenues, leaving the dreamer as the sole witness to the dream. Anything can happen underneath eyelids. Close your own eyes and perhaps you will see..traveling blood vessels, a dark, blank void, instant visions, or a collaged collision of memories.
Now imagine the potential outcome of imagery when four musical visionaries come together in one space, exploring the stories underneath their eyelids through tone, temperament, tempered instruments, and melody. These sole witnesses of separate dreams merge their concepts together, creating “Underneath Eyelids”, a twelve-song release from the musical ensemble Frau Eva. Taking a year and a half to conceive and execute the album material, the band took their product a step further by stitching together hand-printed sleeves and lyric books, as well as creating a digital home for their melodies at frauevamusic.com, which is more like an online, interactive puzzle, than a band website.
“How did we come to be, locked inside this mystery?” Vanessa Degrassi sings as one of the vocal narrators on “Rowing.” But really, it’s a good existential question for how Degrassi and her bandmates collectively fabricated Underneath Eyelids.
“It was a journey of the imagination over time,” Degrassi comments, “as opposed to a snapshot of a moment. It was also a synthesis of minds, expanding on ideas. To me, a band is finding a place where everyone resonates.”
“It’s always explosive,” David Klinger chimes in.
“Well, anything creative is explosive,” Degrassi points out.
“But it’s somewhat a violent process,” Klinger persists. “Because it’s battling visions. It’s good to have the argument though, because when you play solo you spend a lot of time with your ideas and get attached to them.”
“Those driving visions,” Ben Usie adds. “Sometimes you get fixated on your own ideas but they can become more road-worn when they get into another ear. You know more of what you believe in once someone listens and responds. You have to stick up for your thoughts, but it takes a lack of ego to realize that you can improve upon what you’ve taken stake in.”
“Your own interplay grows from what’s brought to the table and is analyzed in the aftermath,” says Degrassi.
So what did the band bring to the table, besides flutes, flugelhorns, slide guitar, and bowed saws? Lyrically, they share from song to song the continuous concept of mentioning dream content. In “Throwing Rocks” Klinger sings, “I saw you in a dream/ You spoke in tongues to me”. Degrassi comes across equally mystifying imagery as she sees a “Blue Beetle” on the “serpentine floor”, but soon enough an outside distraction snaps her back into reality, where “the floor returns to it’s sleeping wood state.” During “Morissey Smiling”, Klinger sings of how he “dreamt [I] was a man who’s soul was worth redeeming” and how since he left home “the past feels like [I'm] dreaming.”
“Home can help save your mind,” Usie sings during “The Pilot”, a song that seems to be about finding control through assistance, the way a captain keeps a clear course by the lighthouse beacon. “Pilot’s driving underneath his eyelids,” Usie sings, automatically putting said-pilot into a fantasy state, assuring him to “sit back tight, rest your eyes”. It seems like said-pilot is driven by something else beyond himself, just as Frau Eva is moved by the force behind their visions and the activity underneath their eyelids.
Frau Eva plays Black Cat on Saturday 6/16 with Heavy Breathing, Paperhaus and Janel & Anthony