Hydromedusae is the new project of long-time friends and collaborators Jessica Bailiff and Annelies Monseré.
This debut self-titled LP was patiently sketched over a number of years and comprises of eight minimal songs that weave darkly hypnotic melodies with drone-folk structures. On some songs the repeating vocal patterns, whispered, close-by and offset by distant guitar, create a diaphanous fog. Other tracks are harder edged, with garish keyboards and distortion. Drones form the basis on most of the skeletal compositions; organ, bass pulses or sustained guitar acting as a backdrop to monophonic vocals, with cello, piano and percussion drifting in and out of range.
Jessica Bailiff has been recording under her own name since 1998, with albums on labels such as kranky and Morc. She has also worked in numerous collaborative projects, including Northern Song Dynasty and Clear Horizon. This release is her first output in over 10 years.
Annelies Monseré has recorded since 2001, releasing long-players on Morc, Stroom and Horn Of Plenty among others. She has recently recorded acclaimed albums with the bands Distels and Luster.
Throughout their careers a mutual harmony with each other's sound has been detectable; the expansive space of Annelies' 2005 CD Helder prompted reviewers to draw reference to Jessica Bailiff, and the folk influences present throughout Jessica's work has kinship with Annelies Monseré's uniquely minimal song craft. They have collaborated before, with numerous live performances and a 2008 EP on Morc Records in which they re-worked pared down versions of each other's songs. As such, the haunted sound of Hydromedusae feels like an organic synergy of two artists who have resolutely pursued their own paths, only to find common ground.
Annelies and Jessica met 20 years ago, November 17th 2002, in Den Hemel (Heaven), Zichem, Belgium. A couple of months earlier, Annelies's boyfriend, Wim Lecluyse, received a request from Michael Anderson (BlueSanct, Drekka) to help with some Belgian dates for a tour he was booking, which included Jessica Bailiff on the bill. Wim and Annelies were really excited as they were both big admirers of Jessica Bailiff’s music. Although they were a bit nervous meeting her, they hit it off almost immediately and have stayed in touch ever since. After doing some touring together in Europe and the US and accompanying each other on stage, they released an EP as ‘Jessica Bailiff & Annelies Monseré’ on Wim's label, Morc, reworking each other’s songs. Yet, they were looking for an even closer collaboration and started writing songs together. Initially, they sent musical ideas back and forth. Songs slowly started forming. They knew each other and each other’s music so well, and felt comfortable to cut and paste from each other’s contributions and even to write lyrics together. The songs grew even more when they toured together (with Mat Sweet on drums) in Europe. Annelies went to Jessica’s home a year later and finished the recordings. They are very happy now to share them with the world as Hydromedusae.
Annelies says "Playing music with Jessica has always been a pure delight. It has been fulfilling from an artistic perspective: our musical intuitions and backgrounds are similar, but not too similar, which makes sure there is a good balance between comfort and challenge. From a personal perspective, playing music together has also been an excellent ‘excuse’ to be together and to deepen our friendship." Jessica wholeheartedly agrees, and says "Annelies is a musical soulmate. It's never hard work, sometimes challenging in the best way, and always fun. Making music together came easily. There was often laughter - a lot of laughter. Her music and spirit continue to inspire me to this day."