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Doran

by Doran

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  • Cassette + Digital Album

    Gold ink on a smoky grey cassette tape with J-card and clear box. Only 200 copies available.

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1.
Deer People 01:37
2.
Old Moon 02:18
3.
Arbegen 02:20
4.
5.
6.
7.
Solstice 03:07
8.
9.
10.
Bonefolder 05:36
11.
Boy/Moon 03:50
12.
13.

about

Taking their name from a children’s fantasy novel, Doran is a four-person freak folk collective hailing from rural Virginia, New York City, and the Pacific Northwest. Together, singer and banjo-player Elizabeth LaPrelle (Anna & Elizabeth), multi-media performance artists and musicians Channing Showalter and Annie Schermer (West of Roan), and songwriter and producer Brian Dolphin draw from their respective work in story, song, archetype and image, and advance it into an untapped experimental terrain that is newly raw, wintry, moody, and tender.

The result is an intimately collaborative record of rich and often eerie modal harmonies, supported by sparse acoustic arrangements, and grounded by the group’s strong background in traditional Appalachian ballad singing, Eastern European folk polyphony, Celtic folklore, and improvisation. Songs ranging from sorrowful to playful twine together in a hauntingly beautiful cohesive album one could imagine hearing on the soundtrack of the next A24 folk horror film. Doran’s layered, searching debut reaches into the spaces between self and other, past and future, inner landscape and outer, and returns with a new language to describe the journey.

Recorded in an attic in Rural Retreat, Virginia, during a month-long residency in January 2019, Doran explores the edges between tradition and innovation in song, myth, and ceremony. As the band practiced creative prompts and performed rituals of burying their bodies in leaves, lighting “failure lanterns,” pulling Tarot, stewing bone broth, and spinning a harp in a web of red yarn, twelve original songs emerged. At the intro of “And We Are Going,” violinist and vocalist Annie Schermer says, “You planned it, and you asked for it, and now it’s happening.” Her words were about Brian’s eagerness to start recording, yet over time that phrase and the chorus, “and we are going where we wanted to go,” evolved to become a mantra for the members of Doran’s musical lives—a prayer in the midst of chaos and uncertainty that as artists they might go where they wanted to, where they asked and planned to go."

During the residency, band members challenged themselves in the vein of Yoko Ono’s conceptual prompts to write songs on unfamiliar instruments. Playing a mountain dulcimer, Elizabeth LaPrelle wrote the spare yet elegant track “Down the Road.” The same mountain dulcimer beckoned Channing Showalter to write a tonally adjacent sister song called “Bread and Water.” Annie Schermer followed with an improvised “Boy/Moon” on the harmonium, solidifying the natural drone that threads the album’s movements through landscapes as sonically rich as Silly Sisters, the Watersons, and the Incredible String Band, and as excitedly modern as Sam Amidon, Joanna Newsom, and Cate Le Bon.

Immediately before the residency commenced, fiddler and vocalist Channing Showalter wrote “Solstice” on the 2018 winter solstice, complete with a repetitive part that the group could learn and sing, layered with simple lyrics. Channing was spending her first winter back in the Northwest, the place of her childhood, after some years away. She says that writing “Solstice” was “an invitation to myself to go more fully into and through the dark doorway of winter and see what I find,” an introspective challenge that hearkens back to the origin of the band’s name, which hails from Monica Furlong’s children’s fantasy novel Wise Child. In Furlong’s novel set in the medieval British Isles, a doran (derived from the celtic word dorus, meaning doorway) is someone who is working—in any discipline—to live in harmony with natural rhythms and to benefit all life and its cycles; it is thus the name to refer to true “magicians,” in the book.

For Doran’s band members, the name serves as a wellspring that encompasses the variety of media where they draw inspiration: the deep listening techniques of Pauline Oliveros, the myth and story in Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s Women Who Run With the Wolves, Ursula K. LeGuin’s novels and poetry, Lady Frieda Harris’s Thoth Tarot deck and its symbols, the Ukrainian choral music of Ensemble Drevo, Bozhychi, and Rozhanytsia, as well as the interstellar sonic canvases of Radiohead and Meredith Monk.

While traditional folk arrangements and instruments permeate Doran’s original songs, the fourth track, “Our Captain Cried All Hands,” is the only traditional song on the album. Cath and Phil Tyler’s version of the English ballad had captivated Elizabeth LaPrelle’s attention in months leading up to the residency and the song thus became one of the first vocal arrangements Doran made as a quartet. “I think we all felt the sorrow of the words keenly,” Elizabeth says. “It’s the lament of someone who doesn’t understand why the one they love would go to war.”

Doran formed out of close friendship and a common love of weird and beautiful vocal arrangements. The collective’s first work together was a spontaneous, experiential show in the Fort Worden bunkers of Port Townsend, during the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. In an attempt to blur the lines of audience and performer and to bring the realm of myth into everyday reality, band members invited participants into an original story of death and rebirth through the acts of singing, walking a labyrinth, playing with shadow puppets, and weaving a web of red thread with some thirty participants. That intention, generosity, and playfulness imbues every track on Doran, culminating in a record that merges the spiritual with the earthly in a luminous sonic language that is wholly their own.

credits

released November 5, 2021

Doran is Annie Schermer, Brian Dolphin, Channing Showalter, and Elizabeth LaPrelle.

Deer People by Brian /Old Moon by Channing /Arbegen by Annie /Our Captain Cried All Hands traditional /And We Are Going by Brian /Down the Road by Elizabeth /Solstice by Channing /The Shadow Walks Behind You improv by Annie and Brian /Bread and Water by Channing /Bonefolder by Brian /Boy/Moon by Annie /Day Into Night by Brian /Deer People Reprise improv by Doran

Doran was engineered and mixed by Brian Dolphin in Rural Retreat, Virginia, and mixed and mastered by Joseph DeJarnette at Studio808A in Floyd, Virginia.

Doran’s self-titled debut is a release of SPINSTER, the radical feminist record label from writer Michelle Dove, folklorist and writer Emily Hilliard, and musician and artist Sally Anne Morgan (The Black Twig Pickers, House and Land). Doran, the label’s eighth release, will be available November 5, 2021 on CD, cassette, and digital platforms.

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Doran Bellingham, Washington

Taking their name from a children’s fantasy novel, Doran is a four-person freak folk collective hailing from rural Virginia, New York, and the Pacific Northwest. 

Doran is Elizabeth Laprelle (Anna & Elizabeth), Channing Showalter and Annie Schermer (West of Roan), and Brian Dolphin.
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