The Brooklyn-based musical duo Charming Disaster’s upcoming album, “Our Lady of Radium”, represents a departure from the occult themes they have become known for on their past releases. The concept for Ellia Bisker and Jeff Morris on this new release is the life and discoveries of pioneering scientist Marie Curie, as well as the tragic story of the ‘Radium Girls’ and other consequences of Curie’s work.
“Our Lady of Radium” will be released March 4 on CD, 12-inch vinyl LP and via download, simultaneously with a limited-edition lyrics and art book that includes Charming Disaster’s research notes and original illustrations by artist Susan Saas.
Nine songs on the album explore moments from Curie’s life and research: the ancient folklore of the mountains where radioactive ores were mined; the romance of equals between Marie and Pierre; the famous spirit medium whose séances they attended; Marie’s grief following Pierre’s tragic death; the physical characteristics of radium itself; and the personal scandal that almost destroyed her.
The album furthermore also depicts the tragedy of the ‘Radium Girls’, who were poisoned in the course of their employment, painting watch dials with radium-based paint. In addition, the album deals with duels, alchemy, dwarves, romance, Egyptian mythology, radioactive decay chains, and other secret histories.
The origins of the album date from 2017
The project began in 2017, when Bisker and Morris were awarded an artist residency by Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology in Bellaire, MI. The duo undertook extensive reading and research into Curie and her work, and wrote a cycle of nine interwoven songs telling fragments Curie’s story. In the end the songs then lay dormant while the band toured extensively and recorded another album (2019’s “Spells + Rituals”).
In early 2020, Charming Disaster were preparing to record their next studio album when the pandemic hit and put those plans on hold. Unable to record in the studio with a backing band, the duo decided to try a new approach, recording every instrument themselves at Ellia’s parents’ home, which was sitting vacant just outside NYC. Working with just two microphones, the pair tracked ukuleles, guitars, vocals, glockenspiel, bass, pots and pans, breath sounds, a drum kit borrowed from Jeff’s brother, and the piano Ellia used to practice on as a child. They let the sounds of the house contribute too: the natural reverb of a long hallway, a ticking clock that became a percussion element, whistling that echoed in a tiled shower.
You can already check the title track below.
About Charming Disaster
Charming Disaster was formed by Bisker and Morris in 2012, inspired by the gothic humor of Edward Gorey and Tim Burton, the murder ballads of the Americana tradition, and the dramatic flair of the cabaret.
Several albums followed: “Love, Crime & Other Trouble” (2015), “Cautionary Tales” (2017), and “Spells + Rituals” (2019).
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