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Penelope Trappes - Penelope Two (Deluxe Edition Book)

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Deluxe visual edition of ‘Penelope Two’ out on Houndstooth. 40 page hardcover 7” x 7” photo book with digital download link inside, along with bonus 5 track digital EP ‘Withdrawn’. Images by Agnes Haus.

Designed to fit within a 7” record collection, there is a semblance of calm strength and endurance to the intimate images of Penelope within fragile environments. Mostly clothes-free as a statement of freedom, purity, anti-establishment, as well as a comment on humanity’s consumption and destruction of nature.

The words, taken from Penelope’s notes and lyrics for the LP, tell a story that pits the light against the dark that exists within all of us.

Following her debut album ‘Penelope One’ for Optimo Music, London based antipodean vocalist, musician and soundscaper Penelope Trappes presents sophomore longplayer ‘Penelope Two’. 

Elements from multiple sources are subsumed by Trappes’ sonic presence; one hears Badalamenti and Julee Cruise’s work for ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Twin Peaks’, Slowdive’s dreampop, the scorched comedowns of early Primal Scream, Colin Newman’s dark melancholia, plus contemporaries like Grouper, Tropic Of Cancer and Sky H1.

But to say this sounds like any of the above is a glaring oversimplification. It’s as if she’s sculpted her own pieces using only the reverb tails of other’s music, or has set fire to her record collection to paint audio pictures using just the smoke. 

These distilled, rarefied creations take echoes as their starting point, with Trappes summoning swathes of tones, textures and emotions into something ethereal but also powerful, like an evocation of spirits. It’s also deeply melodic, with her intimate, maternally-tender voice floating in the middle of each three dimensional, womb-like sonic space.

The sound of recovery or comfort after damage, ‘Penelope Two’ offers an aural alleviation balm and post traumatic care. It’s reassuring, but darkness was clearly present in the recent past – seeped-in and hard to shake.

Eulogy, letting go of earthly bodies whilst love and spirit remain, questioning mortality and the cycle of birth-life-death  are explored – as are predestination, existential crisis, connection to greater forces and overcoming the conduction of dark energy.

Originally from the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia, Penelope spent a short-lived stint in a Brisbane indie band doing “Mazzy Star meets Leonard Cohen” before moving to New York and developing experimental electronic projects Locke and Priscilla Sharp, plus her best-known incarnation with partner Stephen – The Golden Filter. 

Under the latter moniker the duo released albums with Brille, Vinyl Factory and Optimo that were praised by The FADER, Pitchfork, NME, Gorilla Vs Bear and Resident Advisor. Additional endeavours included sound-tracking short films and feature films, before an indefinite hiatus began.

When not making music Penelope works on photography, video and performance art as part of a visual arts collective, Agnes Haus.