Quickly now: If you are into lo-fi, audio collage, stream-of-consciousness documentation, diaries and other modes of accretive autobiography, or if you love the unmistakable sound of mono cassette decks with built-in condenser mics, you simply must acquire a copy of Shana Falana’s new and unusual release, Shana Falana Sings Herself to Sleep.
The Hudson Valley’s psychedelic rock dreamweaver compiled this hourlong audio scrapbook from her time as a fixture on the San Francisco music scene in the 1990s. Demos, collages, audio diaries recorded in a bathtub, disjunctive experiments, meandering piano interludes and proper tracks from her serious projects are woven together in a spellbinding, often-funny document of an artist’s progress in a specific time and place.
Great songs, half-songs and should-have-been-songs abound. The range of Falana’s musical ambition is kinda startling. Many snippets evoke Daniel Johnston’s inspired naïveté and the proud half-competence of early Guided by Voices, but other tracks foreshadow the careful and artful psychedelic layering for which she has become known around here, especially “Long Time Coming,” “Tragic Magic” and the splendidly beautiful “Home.” The noisy lo-fi helium pop of “Thank You” is a revelation, as is the irresistibly sassy “I Have a Date.” “Peanutbuttersandwich” offers a sweet and extended metaphor very much in the spirit of the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking with You.” That plainsong folksterism finds additional support in Falana’s hilarious and moving feminist update of Harry McClintock’s “Big Rock Candy Mountains.”
Shana Falana Sings Herself to Sleep is obviously a must-have for fans of Falana’s current music, but this rich, overgrown garden of miscellany, rarities and psychic effluvium could well find its own place in the canon of Outsider art and artifact-based personal memoir. It is only available via contribution to her Indiegogo “Send Shana Falana to Europe” campaign. The digital download with associated graphics and documents can be secured for a mere $10 (a stupid bargain). For $18, get it on cassette, where it belongs. And act fast: The campaign closes in late February. Visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/send-shana-falana-to-europe for more information.