Via Brooklyn Vegan, Italian American multi-instrumentalist Alessandro Baris and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo united for new single “Last Letter to Jayne.” The new release will appear on Baris’s upcoming debut solo EP titled SINTESI.
The song has an ethereal and enigmatic gravity to it. The soft percussion and drawn-out synth chords never make the listener feel totally at home, and yet the tune demands to be experienced in its entirety. There is a nagging sense of urgency as vocals stroke in and out of the forefront. The ambience of the song is amplified by the inclusion of Ranaldo’s spoken word. He begins countdowns that drift off, and speaks in melancholy. It all steadily swells and releases in a countless loop, as the lush tone screams lucid fantasy.
Baris commented on the background of the song, saying, “’Last Letter to Jayne’ has been the last piece of the album that I’ve composed and it’s probably the one who better represents the research of absence that guided me through this work. My initial vision was that of crossing a glacial landscape, hostile to life but necessary for it, as a metaphor for which those tough moments we experience are necessary to move on through our life process. After the electronic instrumental part was done I thought of having a spoken word part on it in order to add organicity – so I thought of Lee who has a very particular and evocative vocal timbre.”
Ranaldo drew parallels to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement when he devised an approach to the collaboration, saying “The initial text for ‘Last Letter to Jayne’ was written in the early dark days of the pandemic, when it seemed the world was closing in. We were stuck at home, hardly able to go outside even for some fresh air. Fear and insecurity were high. I had recently parted ways with someone who I’d been close to, but our time together was ending, sealing shut like the doors and windows in the pandemic.”
He continued, “During the work on the lyrics we here in the USA became immersed in the Black Lives Matter protests, which have been so important. At some point it occurred to me to try to make the lyrics less specifically tied to a single person, and my own loss, and to attempt something expanded, so I appended many more names to Jayne’s, symbolizing all those relationships that have been here and gone, lost in one way or another – in my life, in Ale’s, perhaps in yours too.”
For more on the artists featured on this track, check out Sonic Youth’s vintage Ciccone Youth album, which is now available on Bandcamp.