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Amy Denio


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

An evocative/eclectic mix of experimental noise & vocals, with elements of jazz, rock, world music: tangos, waltzes, you name it

Status:

Most recent album, Prodigal Light (2013)

See also:

Amy Denio's official site

Amy Denio's Bandcamp site

Amy Denio's Myspace page

Amy Denio has contributed to the work of many groups. See the Ectophiles' Guide entries for Tone Dogs and Pale Nudes.

Comparisons:

Highly individual. Strange and wonderful vocals like Iva Bittová, Meredith Monk, Anna Homler, and strange and wonderful music like Caveman Shoestore. (Neile)

Covers/own material:

Own, some co-written songs, some traditional material

General comments:

Experiments in combining sounds. Overall fascinating mix of instruments and voice. She's an edgy/experimentalish performer/musician/singer. She's been in Seattle a long time and has been a member of a lot of great groups from the punk/experimental tone dogs ("When Bush Was Head of the CIA" is their best known song) to the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet and sang on one album with the band, Curlew. She's a multi-instrumentalist. Her music is great and energetic and I'm continually amazed at the growls and buzzes and soaring descants she can swing her voice through. Her music can range from edgy rock songs and some tango-y things on the accordion. Delightful. I highly recommend her solo discs for those who like strange experimentalish stuff that is still recognizable as rock songs. Well, mostly. Her work with other groups is wonderful, too, but there's a lot of it—I'm sure her discography is fascinating but chaotic reading. (Neile)

fortunately and unfortunately, she's prolific: a zillion projects (the entropics, the tone dogs, curlew, the bmta, the pale nudes, etc.) and a jillion solo works. she's multi-instrumental: sax, bass, accordion, guitar. she's great. one of my favourites is an lp by a group called the entropics called spagga! which i think is brilliant. it's pre-tone dogs, but in the same avant jazz rock vein. it also features probably my fave amy denio tune, "lousy in the tropics" which also pops up as a different recording on a c/z sampler called secretions though amy was calling herself "couch of sound" at that time (she has this habit of re-recording songs over and over and over again—witness "when bush was head of the cia" which shows up in different version on spagga!, birthing chair blues and tone dogs' the early middle years). she also has a lot of cassettes out and about. i have one called spoot which is pretty fun too.
     amy denio rules. 'nuff said. (woj@smoe.org)

How would i describe Seattle Treasure, Amy Denio? Hmm, that is a very good question. Amy's no longer a member of the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet [editor's note: she has since re-joined], but you can always count on her to be out there, pushing that musical edge. (peskura@scn.org)

Amy is a pretty whacky performer. She can play just about anything, though when she played here she played guitar and accordion. She tends to have a lot of projects going on, and is doing some modern dance scoring in NYC. She also plays on Mary Lydia Ryan's last album, and has been known to play live with her, which could be a fun thing for a concert. (neal)

Comments about live performance:

She's energetic and inventive and can fill any hall—even solo. I've seen her outside. She filled that hall, too. (Neile)

I'd walk to Seattle, from Chicago, to see Amy Denio. (lissener@yahoo.com)

I had the pleasure to see Amy Denio on Saturday. I have heard about her for years (mostly on this list), but the only work of hers I really remembering hearing is the accordion and sax playing she does on Mary Lydia Ryan's Diaphanous.
     Amy was quite personable. I knew that she did some strange things vocally, and she certainly did. She reminded me of a cross between Yma Sumac, Iva Bittova, a Tuvan throat singer, an Indian raga singer, and a touch of Marta Sebestyen. She definitely is an eclectic mix. She played accordion mostly, a bass? guitar, and a regular guitar on her final number.
     While I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, I wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be. For all it's wonderful oddity, her music didn't move me at all emotionally—except for those songs I found amusing. And while her vocal techniques were impressive—I wasn't blown away by them. I think Amy's greatest gift is her ability to fuse so many different styles, but I personally didn't find her as good as some of the originals that seemed to influence her.
     I would definitely recommend that people who are into music a little off the beaten path, that fuses influences from around the world, check her out. She's definitely a sweet person and it certainly won't be a boring night! (11/99, jjhanson@att.net)

Well, this afternoon was my Amy Denio concert. It was a lot of fun. Amy played a 45-minute set on accordian, and after a break, another 45-minute set on accoustic guitar. She told some amusing stories about the origins of her songs, and played pieces from many aspects of her career. She also sang in several different languages (Italian, Spanish and Czech—and English too). The piece that most wowed me was "Inner Id", mostly for its odd and not totally pleasant effects. She started by playing accordian, and then began singing in ways that created really strange harmonic affects. Almost immediately, my eardrums started to vibrate, and eventually a lot of my skull did. The sound stopped coming from in front of me, and instead sounded as if it was originating inside my head. I spent some time trying to decide if the effect was painful, or just odd. I figured since I was thinking about it, it must not actually be painful. (Though a few people left at the break, in part because of headaches they got from that song.) It was a very interesting feeling. Amy said she'd love to play it for deaf people sometime. I'd be curious how they perceived it. I'm also curious how she perceives it while singing, but repeatedly forgot to ask her. (7/00, neal)

Recommended first album:

Greatest Hits might be a good starting place so you can find out what part of her career you might want to delve into more deeply. My personal favourites are Birthing Chair Blues and Tongues. (Neile)

Recordings include:

See her website for a more complete discography.

  • No Bones (1986)
  • Never Too Old To Pop A Hole (1988)
  • Birthing Chair Blues (1991)
  • Tongues (1993)
  • More Spoot
  • Greatest Hits (compilation, 1999)
  • To Lie Tenderly (with Petunia, 2002)
  • Chickenhawks Out Not (2002)
  • Vivian Girls (with Martin Hayes, 2004)
  • Venerdi Santo (with Francesco Calandrino, 2006)
  • sub-Rosa (2007)
  • Ama Trio (2012)
  • Prodigal Light (2013)

Birthing Chair Blues

Release info:

1991—spoot/Knitting Factory Works, 47 East Houston Street, New York, NY 10012, U.S.A.—KEWCD-111

Availability:

Available in the U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of experimental vocals and rock

Group members:

Amy Denio—"fretted and fretless bass, electric and slide guitar, voices galore, alto sax, harmonica, alto recorder, bass mbira, popping bass calloused thumb joint and PZM mic, dishwasher, washing machine, low-fi Audion organ and the dreaded drum machine, all going in various directions at various speeds. Featuring dB's great grandmother's wind-up stuffed Bear on Lullabye."

Produced by:

Amy Denio

Comments:

The list of instruments says nearly everything that needs to be said, except this is wonderful to listen to, and even catchy. Don't let the experimental nature of this music make you think it's difficult to listen to—it's not, and in fact if you're at all tolerant of edgy music you'll find it stuck in your head—lots of musical hooks here to keep you listening. (Neile)

tongues

Release info:

1993—FOT Records, P.O. Box 505, Bloomingdale, IL 60108, U.S.A.—FOT AD1

Availability:

U.S. stores that carry indie releases

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for fans of experimental rock

Group members:

Amy Denio—accordion, vocals, Proteus programming, alto sax, 12-string & electric guitars, accordion drone, Alessis SR16 programming, slide/distorted/drone & other bass, Yamaha SY22 program

Guest artists:

Marjorie de Muynck—mandolin, backing vocals, Tusk Tom suggestions, soprano sax, "vibes" solo
Charley Rowan—accordion with solo

Comments:

Weird and wonderful. Stuff. "Salvatore" will stick in my ears for years. Amy Denio plays with her voice in ways no one else has even thought of. (Neile)

I must say that I'm impressed. This album has a completely different feel to it from Birthing Chair Blues. Inspired by Macedonian and Greek folk music, she has made an amazing album indeed. (onealien@mo.himolde.no)


Greatest Hits

Release info:

1999—Unit Circle/Spoot Music—19324 26134

Availability:

Mail order

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for anyone with a taste for the unusual

Group members:

Amy Denio—bass string harmonics, voice, guitars, alto sax, bass drum, cymbals, snare, hubcaps, noise percussion duet, bass, 12-string guitar, drum programming, slide guitar,drone loop, accordion, chinese accordion, bamboo flute, hand claps

Guest artists:

various

Comments:

This includes four Tone Dogs songs, a Curlew song from the album she sang on, seven tracks from her solo recordings, one (EC) Nudes track, one Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet track, three Pale Nudes tracks, one FoMoFlo track, and one Die Knödel track, so it obviously spans a great deal of her career and shows the range of her talent. If you don't have Amy Denio's individual albums, you must get this one. A good sampler of her unique career. (Neile)

Can't put my finger on what it is about this odd mish-mash of music that is so appealing to me. It's all over the map, with strange art/jazz/rock stuff. Sometimes reminds me a bit of Amy X Neuburg, sometimes Iva Bittova, sometimes lots of others. (neal)


Further info:

Write: Spoot Music, P.O. Box 85154, Seattle, WA 98145, U.S.A., email mydenio @ earthlink . net.

A group Amy Denio participates in, the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet appears on two live and exclusive tracks on a compilation, Lives: A Pointless Night Out available from Without Fear Recordings and has its own catalog of recordings.


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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-05-26 19:58:54.
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