Lee Ranaldo & Raül Refree Announce New Album; Watch The Video For "Names Of North End Women"



Credit: Ari Marcopoulos (hi-res)
LEE RANALDO & RAÜL REFREE have announced details of their new album, Names of North End Women, available February 21 on vinyl, CD and digital platforms via Mute. Also shared today is the video for the title track which takes the form of a free edit of Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky’s 1999 film Outer Space – itself an appropriation of The Entity (1982, Sidney J. Furie). Watch here.

Pre-order Names of North End Women here.

Ranaldo and Refree recently sat down with Lior Phillips for This Must Be The Gig, a podcast on Consequence of Sound, to discuss their collaboration on this new album. Listen here.

Ranaldo and Refree worked together on Ranaldo’s last solo album, Electric Trim (Mute, 2017). Soon after, the pair returned to the studio to record the follow up and realized that Names of North End Women would become what Ranaldo describes as “the beginning of a new partnership, a new configuration.”

For Ranaldo – a cofounder of Sonic Youth and one of the greatest guitarists of his generation as ranked by both Rolling Stone and Spin – and Refree, an artist reinventing traditional flamenco guitar (his album with Rosalía continues to grow internationally), this is an album that features tracks with little or no guitar. Instead, the duo composed using marimba and vibraphone, samplers, a vintage 2-inch Studer tape recorder and a modified cassette machine Ranaldo had previously used in performances 25 years earlier.

“We were mixing in all these strange analog sounds from old cassette tapes, dealing with tape hiss; using very new technology and very old technology and mixing them together,” remembers Ranaldo. Elements from a mysterious old tape Ranaldo found spooled on the Studer when he’d bought it years earlier – drum sounds, slamming doors, people talking – formed the backbone of tracks. The music, it seemed, could come from literally anywhere.

“This record began as playing with samplers and cassette players,” says Refree, “as experimental music, musique concrete, poly-rhythms.” As the process wore on, however, their abstractions materialized into songs, their elemental rhythms, ambient hums and sampler damage revealing hidden melodies and patterns upon deep listening. Ranaldo and Refree traded melodic ideas and added vocals to the tracks, singing in addition to the spoken word pieces they’d always planned these pieces to feature. The words came in a process akin to the music, a collagist philosophy prevailing, as Ranaldo recomposed poems from his archives, wrote new pieces and incorporated lines sent in by Jonathan Lethem, who’d helped pen the songs of Electric Trim.

The result is an album alive with the electric crackle of experimentalism, yet satisfying as a collection of songs.

The album’s title, and the title of the lead track, came from an experience Ranaldo had walking through a neighborhood in the North End of Winnipeg, Manitoba. All the streets were named after women: Lydia, Kate, Dagmar, Harriett, Juno, etc – first names only, which implied something anonymous, or universal. Who these women are or were is not indicated, which lends their choice a certain mystery… Men are often named in our society with their full names, but these anonymous names were perhaps stand-ins for the many unrecognized or un-specified in our society. Ranaldo jotted the names down, in poem format, and explains, somehow it became an impetus for the lyrics in terms of the people that drift in and out of one’s life, some significant, some fleeting.” He continues, “I had this idea of using given names as a device that could inform some of the lyrics. It doesn’t play through all the lyrics, but quite a few employ this idea.”

“This album loosens the bonds from the idea of what songs can be, and both Raül and I are excited to see where we can push it further,” says Ranaldo. For now, take time to absorb Names of North End Women, its hidden treasures and unexpected turns, and ponder where Ranaldo and Refree’s collaboration might take them next.

Names of North End Women Tracklisting
1. Alice, Etc.
2. Words out of the Haze
3. New Brain Trajectory
4. Humps
5. Names of North End Women
6. Light Years Out
7. The Art of Losing
8. At The Forks

Lee Ranaldo & Raül Refree Live
April 5 – Bruges, Belgium – Chamber Music Room - Concertgebouw Brugge
April 6 – Utrecht, Netherlands – De Heiling
April 7 – London, England – Milton Court Concert Hall, Barbican
April 9 – Paris, France – LE CENTQUATRE
April 10 – Clermont-Ferrand, France – Cooperative De Mai
April 11 – Nantes, France – Stereolux
April 21 – Ljubljana, Slovenia – Cankarjev Dom
April 28 – Berlin, Germany – Roter Salon - Volksbühne
April 29 – Prague, Czech Republic – Palác Akropolis
April 30 – Krems, Austria – Donau Festival

Special thanks to Peter Tscherkassky for permission to use imagery from his film OUTER SPACE. More info on his work can be found at the following links: