PLAYLIST: Olden Yolk’s Study Guide for “Living Theatre”

The psych-folk duo share a few favs from the making of their latest LP.

Last year, Caity Shaffer and Quilt’s Shane Butler put out a neo-psychedelic folk album as Olden Yolk, which went over so well they’re doing it again this year. Living Theatre is a notably denser, dreamier, and more eclectic batch of songs than those found on their self-titled debut, recalling recent releases from their Trouble in Mind family, including Doug Tuttle, Ultimate Painting (R.I.P.) and the extended Woods family.

Although it’s brimming with personality, Living Theatre, like the experimental theater movement it’s named after, relies on the support of its fellow thespians. From Butler’s Bejar-like delivery on “Cotton and Cane” to Shaffer’s Neko Case swells on “Castor and Pollux” (which is surely a reference to Face/Off and nothing else), the record is clearly the product of reverence for all things baroque.

As a primer on their influences, the duo threw together a playlist of songs that helped them along the way in recording the album: “These are songs we held close to us while writing Living Theatre. Some we studied, and others we just let seep into our subconscious through many, many listens.”

Living Theatre is out today on Trouble in Mind.

Cat Stevens, “But I Might Die Tonight” (Deep End version)

The introduction here is captivating.

The Raincoats, “In Love”

A highlight here is the scraping viola. While arranging “Distant Episode,” we were inspired to try something like this with a totally different sort of song, with a shuttering bowed upright bass.

Julia Holter, “Für Felix”

This was a strong influence on the piano melodies in Living Theatre. There are several lines that build, drop out, and then return in this beautiful alchemy. Kept returning while writing “Blue Paradigm.”

Mega Bog, “Diary of a Rose”

We toured with Erin before going into the studio to write, and this song was always in the air! It’s a singular and spell-binding tune.

Nico, “Sixty Forty”

We were fascinated by the subtle intensity of this one. Although Nico’s singing line doesn’t move around too much, she slowly pushes her delivery until you feel a disturbing tension.

Dominique Lawalrée, “La Maison Des 5 Élémentes”

Love how Lawalrée’s repetitive playing ebbs and flows. Halfway through the song there is a spoken voice that comes in amid the wide, electronic expanse. We thought about Lawalrée often while writing “Grand Palais.”

Karin Krog & Archie Shepp, “Steam”

The buoyancy of Karin’ voice is something to aspire to.

King Krule, “Logos”

The warped minimalism and alien storytelling about a walk home were a revelation when we first heard this last year. Spent a lot of time with this album.

Joan La Barbara, “Twelvesong”

We’d enjoy playing “Twelvesong” on an especially bright day during the summer—croaking, cackling, and squeaking in the sun. We tried out a few of Joan’s vocal techniques on the album, though they’re mixed quite low.

David Behrman, “On the Other Ocean”

The way the acoustic instruments dance with the electronic sounds on this piece is unlike anything. Definitely a flagship piece for us.

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