LA-based Viennese dream pop project Sugarplum Fairies have announced their new collection Altar Songs 1998-2021 and share the lead single, “Heart Hell 2021” accompanied by a music video directed by Lael Neale. A poignant track with Nico-esque vocals and cinematic production, “Heart Hell” is a stunning collaboration between Sugarplum Fairies frontwoman Silvia Ryder and Sid Simons of Girl Skin. The video juxtaposes their living and working environments by projecting VHS footage on a screen and filming it side by side, creating an ethereal, vintage feel.
Altar Songs 1998-2021 is a snapshot of Sugarplum Fairies’ evolution from its 1998 origins as a Vienna-raised/California-based husband and wife duo, which – after a personal and creative breakup in 2013 – resulted in the moniker for a rotating artistic collective spearheaded by vocalist/songwriter Silvia Ryder.
The collection traces Sugarplum Fairies’ sonic journey from shoegaze infused folk-noir roots to jangly vintage guitar pop, and culminating in an explorative genre-defying mélange of non-traditional instrumentation (e.g. accordion, harmonium, omnichord, Baldwin Funmachine). These arrangements conjure surreal images that seem to be part dream diary, part coded messages and part cynical observations, with Ryder’s breathy, hypnotic vocals evoking comparisons to the late chanteuse Nico of The Velvet Underground.
Altar Songs 1998-2021 features numerous collaborations with original Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer and producer Ken Coomer, late Mazzy Star drummer Keith Mitchell, Jebin Bruni (Public Image Ltd, Fiona Apple) on bass and keyboards, Joey Waronker (drummer for Beck and REM), Gus Seyffert (bassist for Beck, Norah Jones), cellist Martin Tillman (Elvis Costello, T Bone Burnett), and horn-section mastermind Danny T. Levin (Iggy Pop, Rilo Kiley) amongst many others.
The compilation includes a new track titled “Tears” and three re-imagined/re-recorded versions of previously released tracks: “Heart Hell 2021 (feat. Sid Simons of Girl Skin and Beechwood)”, “Sandy Says 2021”, and “Sugarfree 2021”. The aforementioned tracks have been produced and mixed by Marlon Rabenreither of Gold Star; all songs have been (re)mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk for Stereophonic Mastering (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, The Dandy Warhols).