Thank God The Plague is Over

by Charles Spearin and Josefin Runsteen

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about

Charles Spearin and Josefin Runsteen, two complete strangers from different spheres of music, met at a 12th-century castle in northern Italy in July 2019. They were invited by Feist and Damien Rice, among a handful other fantastic musicians and artists from various countries, to a week-long residency to collaborate on music, poetry and ideas.

Castel Campo, once owned by the Von Trapp family (yes, from The Sound of Music), is nowadays owned and cared for by the Rasini family, who warmly opened up their hearts and home to this little group of artists. Beside the castle runs a narrow, hidden road that wiggles through a dense grove that, after a little curve, opens up into a field. The road leads to a barn, and then a little chapel. Anyone who enters this chapel, religious or not, cannot help but sense a humble sacredness emanating from every corner. The Renaissance frescos that adorn the plaster ceilings are beautiful, but what connects one to the heart of the place is the ancient graffiti covering the walls. Hundreds of years ago, scrawled in Latin, are the words “Please, God, save us from the Plague” and then, over top, are various symbols of gratitude painted once the Black Death had finally moved on.

On the first day of the residency, when Charles and Josefin had barely exchanged a word to each other, they went up to test the acoustics in the Chapel and began improvising on their instruments. Charles, the Canadian, brought his nyckelharpa, a Swedish folk instrument, while Josefin, the Swede, brought her violin. Immediately, they were astonished by colourful explosions of sound and they felt an instantaneous, profound musical connection. They decided to meet there every day and record their improvisations. These explorations are collected here as their debut album, Thank God the Plague is Over.

They walked back and forth to their chapel every day in complete silence except for the crunch of the gravel under their feet. The walk, the nearby collection of new friends, the kind Rasini family, the mountains, the chirping sparrows in the rafters—and, most important, the sacred tiny sanctuary of the Chapel—were all direct contributors to the creation of this album.

They still don’t actually know each other. Hahaha

credits

released December 24, 2019

Produced, in a sense, by Damien Rice

Josefin Runsteen- violin
Charles Spearin- nyckelharpa
Gyða Valtýsdóttir - cello

Philip Weinrobe - Recording Engineer, Encouraging Force
Francesco Fabris - Additional Recording Engineer
Pouya Hamidi - Mastering
Samuel Guetti, Sofia Rasini - Photography

Enormous Gratitude to:
Damien Rice
Leslie Feist
Marina Clerici
Sofia Rasini
Chapel of San Vigilio

Love and Many Thanks to:
Mary Hickson
Björk Hrafnsdottir
Indigo Sparke
Alex Somers
Adrianne Lenker
Mariam Wallentin
Andreas Werliin
Shahzad Ismaily
Klara Kalusova
Anna Antonsson
Marta Fernández
Gyða Valtýsdóttir
Philip Weinrobe
Francesco Fabris
Valéria Valmi
Pouya Hamidi
Seb Peters
Lia Peters
i gatti del castello

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about

Charles Spearin and Josefin Runsteen Stockholm, Sweden

This is a collection of improvisations Charles Spearin (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think) and Josefin Runsteen (Ane Brun, Fire! Orchestra, Mariam The Believer) recorded in a Chapel in Italy the first week they met.

Hope you like it! Viva la Castel Campo!
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