2019 album also available on CD.
'Living Theatre' is the follow up to the eponymous debut from the musical duo Olden Yolk - Shane Butler and Caity Shaffer. The 2018 debut was an alluring concoction of hypnagogic folk & kosmiche rhythms, expanding and refining Butler’s work in his former band Quilt toward a more focused direction.
Olden Yolk chose to name their forthcoming album after the experimental thespian movement in New York of the same name. The movement involved actors breaking from tradition by “creating an experience of communal expression.” They set to record the album in three months after spending a year on the road touring. ‘Living Theatre’ touches on concepts of home, spirituality, and ancestry in today’s age.
The songs on ‘Living Theatre’ were written & recorded during a heavy time of transition and upheaval for the duo, with personal tragedies and a big move from their NYC home to a warmer climate in Los Angeles colouring the album’s inception. Thematically ‘Living Theatre’ tunes seem to be about how humans react to the ways life is coloured by both fate and the consequences of the conscious and unconscious decisions we make and the album more than lives up to its promise.
Musically, the duo’s songwriting has gelled into a unified front, relying more on the subtle shifts of melody and rhythm than a barrage of chord changes; “Living Theatre”s hooks lap at your feet like a babbling brook, rather than bowl you over like violent waves. The refinement in tunes like “Castor and Pollux”, “Grand Palais” and first single “Cotton and Cane” points to a new frontier for the group; soaring skyward toward the emotionally textural plateaus of trailblazers like The Go-Betweens or Yo La Tengo. There’s a discernible romantic feel to tunes like “Violent Days” or “Distant Episode”‘s lush arrangements with Shaffer in particular finding her own voice here; poetic, abstract & expressive. ‘Living Theatre’ showcases a band breaking free from it’s chrysalis, and embracing its next phase of evolution.
‘Living Theatre ‘was created with percussionist Booker Stardrum and co-producer Jarvis Taveniere in collaboration with Eliza Bagg, Frank Maston, Peter Wagner, and Benjamin Levinson