- Klarka Weinwurm's debut full-length is haunting but heavy
Since the 1500s, philosophers have explored theories of plate tectonics, positing that crust-topped lithospheres gently move under the earth's surface over eons. For scientists, the theory explains topographical similarities between far-off geological locations. At the core of continental drift theory is the sense that distinct parts create a unified whole.
Fast forward a few millennia to Klarka Weinwurm's long-awaited full-length debut, Continental Drag: 11 haunting but heavy tracks that push and pull genres across oceans and skies.
Living in Lahave, NS, Weinwurm kicks off an eastern tour this week and releases the album with duo Construction and Destruction and Jon McKiel on Thursday night at Gus' Pub.
Recorded in February 2011 with Diego Medina at Riverport's The Old Confidence Lodge, without a label in line, Weinwurm went adrift waiting for the plates to shift. Finally, she says, Continental Drag was picked up by Calgary's Saved By Vinyl and mastered in Ontario.
"It feels like a child that's finally been born," laughs Weinwurm. "It feels like I've been pregnant for two years just waiting for it to come out." Like a new mom, Weinwurm has a real confidence in Continental Drag, beating the feel of her 2009 EP that she says she's outgrown.
"I worked with folks I don't usually work with---Ruth Minnikin, Gianna Lauren, Rebecca Zolkower. There's banjo and ukulele. And Diego added three-part violins, which are epic," she says. "I'm just really excited to finally have something out there that I feel really good about. I feel like it represents who I am," Weinwurm says. "I feel like all my secrets are on there."
With subtle metaphorical lyricism, Continental Drag slowly shoves the genres of folk and indie rock in the same directions, creating a melodic tension inspired by great distances.
"'Continental' has a few meanings, the main one being that I wish there wasn't water between all the lands," she says, about missing her family in Slovakia. "My family is a big part of me. I wish I could just drive to Europe rather than having to fly." So Weinwurm built some bridges.
"The east coast of Canada is really traditional, and I feel like I have a lot of that in my nature, with my Slovak heritage. I like experimenting with traditional folk and indie rock. I think it comes from all the places I've lived," she says, as her music combines qualities from different styles.
Thematic threads can be traced through the album like fault lines. Weinwurm wrote the sadly sweet opener, "Pictures," after friends-of-friends went missing during a Pacific boat tour.
"I envisioned my friend finding a photo of her friends washed up, all drowned and wet and melted away. They just disappeared," she says. It's a poetic script for a natural tragedy.
But there is also levity. The 48-second "Continental Drag," a Tom-Waits-Bone-Machine-style anthem, started off as a joke but really rips as a track. Over McKiel's gravel vocals, Weinwurm hums: "It's a continental drag, I like to sing, nobody cares;" a funny comment on the difficulties of making a career as an indie musician, even though it's well within her reach.
"There's definitely a literal sense of things being a drag," she says. "But I want people to make it their own." Continental Drag is a moving record that will move you, as sure as science.
Klarka Weinwurm w/Jon McKiel, Construction and Destruction, Thursday, September 20 at Gus‘ Pub, 2605 Agricola Street