What's up, Dame Wiggens?

Dame Wiggens is currently planning for new recordings that will start in April 2008, and continue during the summer.


Concerts

2008-02-09: Release party for the album "divine images", Malmö/Sweden


divine images (2007)

Ten Point 10PCD 001
Produced by Kent Olofsson and Martin Hedin
11 songs with the art rock band Dame Wiggens with poems by William Blake from Songs of Innocence and of Experience
Music by Kent Olofsson and Cristin Lindqvist
Buy the CD
divine images (2007)
Songs on the album divine images:
  • The Garden of Love
  • London
  • The Divine Image
  • Nurse's Song (Songs of Innocence)
  • The Angel/The Sick Rose
  • Introduction/Earth's Answer
  • The Clod & The Pebble
  • The Little Black Boy
  • Nurses Song (Songs of Experience)
  • To Tirzah
  • A Divine Image/The Lilly
 

Comments to the songs on "divine images"

All comments by Cristin Lindqvist

1. The GARDEN of LOVE

(Songs of Experience)

The garden illustrates a place where love would naturally be found. However, the garden is occupied by a Chapel, graves and priests - telling us about rules and negations. The joy of freedom and love has been bound in doctrines and repression of our natural desires.

The background vocals in the song illustrate the thoughts of the visitor; even though the visitor keeps her calm, her thoughts are distraught, heartbroken and desperate. She remembers the days she used to freely dance in the garden of love. The sitar and tabla illustrate the joy and freedom that used to be in the Garden of Love.

This song is one of the first recorded for this album, already in 1999. The sitar and the tabla were recorded during another recording session for a CD with Indian Raga, and are played by two great musicians, Sazed Ul Alam and Jai Shankar. I am happy to have made their acquaintance and that they both wanted to enrich this beautiful song with their wonderful musicianship.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: keyboards, programming

Sazed Ul Alam: sitar

Jai Shankar: tabla

2. LONDON

(Songs of Experience)

The poem reflects Blake's extreme disillusionment with the suffering he saw in London at his time. It was published during the aftermath of the French revolution.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars

David Fremberg: lead guitar

Allan Skrobe: bass, back vox

Martin Hedin: piano, back vox

Tomas Erlandsson: drums, back vox

Tobias Broström: percussion

3. The Divine Image.

(Songs of Innocence)

A theme very often used by Blake is the identification of man with God. Here the poem repeats that Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love are in both human and divine, and all humans no matter what origin, religion, age or sex are connected to the divine with these attributes.

There are so many details in the music, more or less heard. The basic rhythm loop which also starts the song is originally a sample from a violin bow that was dropped on the floor during a recording of one of Kent's chamber music works. The music shows Kent's expertise in electronic music.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming

Martin Hedin: keyboards, programming

4. Nurse's Song

(Songs of Innocence)

The poem is a picture of a perfect and innocent childhood. The nurse is calling the children by sunset, but the children want to stay out in the wonderful evening. Here is nothing dark or restricting, but only the laughter of children playing in a beautiful nature, and a warmhearted nurse who lets them stay out for a little longer.

Even though Kent is an excellent piano player, all sounds heard in this song are played on guitars - even the piano sounds. It is a fun example of how Dame Wiggens' mind works. Everything is possible to experiment with as long as the final result works fine.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, MIDI-guitar, programming

5a. The Angel

(Songs of Experience)

The voice is low, like it is right after wakening up in the early morning telling about a dream. The lyrics (and the dream) tell about transition from youth to adulthood, from innocence to experience. The maiden Queen is in her childhood guarded by an Angel. All sorrows she experiences growing up chase away the Angel, while the adult woman protects herself by drying her tears and arming her fears. When the Angel returns it is too late, youth is gone and the soul is too hardened to welcome the Angel again.

5b. The SICK ROSE

(Songs of Experience)

There are several different interpretations of this poem, but most of them talk about the different troubles of earthly love and materialism. The worm could be the symbol of diseases that follow free love. During Blake's time it was syphilis that was the most common sexually transmitted disease. In that meaning this poem is ever so highly topical even today, although the diseases and restrictions are different.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming

Allan Skrobe: bass

Tomas Erlandsson: drums, percussion

Tobias Broström: percussion

6. Introduction. / EARTH'S Answer.

(Songs of Experience)

The Introduction of The Songs of Experience is closely connected to the second poem, Earth's Answer, which are also connected musically on this album.

The Ancient Bard, the Prophet, or - if you like - God, calls the Earth (the symbol of the Fallen Man) to regain control of the world. Man has fallen into materialism and therefore lost his imagination and free life. The 'starry pole' and 'starry floor' is Reason, the 'watry shore' is the edge of materialism. These will only last till the break of day if Earth will leave 'the slumberous mass'.

Earth hears the Bard's call and replies. She describes herself as desperate and imprisoned in jealousy, reason and materialism. How can the Father in his selfish fear demand that she would leave these chains without helping her break her bondage? Already in Eden Man lost his freedom, and is forever bound in materialism.

Introduction and Earth's Answer have been tricky songs to understand as well as to sing. Trying to sound like The Ancient Bard might sound when calling the Fallen Man; authoritarian, but still gentle and full of timeless love, giving Man the opportunity of free choice. How does a female voice that? Either she just sings the way she sounds or she tries to sound like the Bard. These two are the last songs that we recorded the vocals for just because of this matter. The last taking was made in mid July 2007, after Kent and I decided to remake parts of the original arrangement that made years earlier. Already from the start Introduction and Earth's Answer are arranged as one song, since the two poems are so closely connected - The Bard is calling and the Earth is answering.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming

7. The CLOD & the PEBBLE

(Songs of Experience)

The soft Clod of Clay sings about innocent, unselfish love and building a Heaven to Hell's despair. The hard Pebble lies still in the water, singing about (experienced) selfish love and building a Hell in spite of Heaven.

In the musical version of this poem there is an additional verse, made of a mix of all three stanzas. The Clod of Clay and the Pebble are fighting, like light fights the dark, while the narrator walks away from the brook. I think the Clod of Clay wins. At least that is my wish.

Although we have all kinds of opportunities to mix and fix the voice as well as all instruments, the different "voices" in this song are actually made acoustically. Just two different slight reverbs on the two antagonists are added, no other effects. The narrator's voice is dry. Dame Wiggens likes to experiment, not only with electronics but also with instrumental skills.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: keyboards, 12-stringed guitar, programming

8. The Little Black Boy.

(Songs of Innocence)

This following text is in its whole found at the Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org), and very well describes what this song is about.

Blake believed in equality for all men, which is reflected in this poem… "The Little Black Boy" was published in 1789, a time when slavery was still legal and the campaign for the abolition of slavery was still young. In "The Little Black Boy" Blake questions conventions of the time with basic Christian morality. This becomes apparent in the third stanza, where Blake uses the sun as a metaphor for God and His Kingdom…: "Look on the rising sun: there God does live". This line is particularly important, as the reference to the sun not only introduces us to the running religious metaphor in the subsequent stanzas, but the fact that it is "rising" connotes change, and could potentially be a reference to the resurrection of Christ.

In accordance with the running metaphor of the sun, the fact that Blake speaks of "black bodies" and a "sunburnt face" in the fourth stanza seems to imply that black people are closer to God as a result of their suffering - for one can only become dark and sunburned as a result of being exposed to the sun's rays. In the final stanza this idea is developed further, as the black boy says that he will "shade him [the English boy] from the heat", this implies that the English boy's pale skin is not used to the heat (derived from God's love) - some critics assert that the paleness of the English boy in this poem is symbolic of the fact that the English were distanced from God as a result of their treatment of the black peoples.

In the 5th stanza, we see all of humanity being united: "For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, The cloud will vanish..." In the 6th stanza this metaphor is continued: "When I from black, and he from white cloud free", Here, Blake uses the clouds as a metaphor for the human body. These stanzas therefore imply that after physical life has passed, all will be united with God.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards

David Fremberg: lead guitar

Allan Skrobe: bass, mandola

Tomas Erlandsson: drums

Tobias Broström: percussion

9. NURSES Song

(Songs of Experience)

This poem in Songs of Experience is the opposite to Nurse's Song in Songs of Innocence. Now the Nurse is old and grey, the children are grown up, aware of sex but restricted by rules. The Nurse is green of jealousy of something she can never have, and regrets that she let the children play and discover joy and lust.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming

10. To Tirzah

(Songs of Experience)

Jesus told his mother in the temple: "Then what have I to do with thee!" This is mentioned twice in this poem, but used even more times in the musical version of the 'song'. A man is not yet adult until he is untied from his family, then he is ready to escape to spiritual life. Tirzah, the 'Mother of my Mortal part', signifies physical beauty. The earthly mother is limiting a man's freedom by material bonds. Only the death of Jesus can set Man free. 'It is raised a spiritual body!'

In our version of this song we chose to use the third stanza as a chorus, repeated three times through the song, and already sung after the first stanza. Also with this in mind, the line "Then what have I to do with thee" being repeated over and over, is showing the difficulties Man has to disconnect from earthly bonds to become one with The Spirit. It could also be the sound of the imprinted words in a mother's head, the worst thing she could ever hear, the words of being neglected by her own child. As William Blake wrote "It is raised a spiritual body" in the right lower corner of his plate to this song, we chose to repeatedly sing it in the coda like it is heard from above or from far away.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards

David Fremberg: lead guitar

Martin Hedin: keyboards

Allan Skrobe: bass

Tomas Erlandsson: drums

Tobias Broström: percussion

11a. A DIVINE IMAGE

(Songs of Experience - supplementary Plate)

Just shortly before the terror attack of World Trade Centre, September 9th 2001, we made the first recordings of A Divine Image. By that time not knowing that William Blake also wrote Prophecies, I was stunned by this poem's description of the human mind, the terrorist, and connected the song to the terrible events of 9/11. Some years earlier Kent found a book, the Illustrated Songs of Innocence and of Experience in a book store in World Trade Centre during a travel to New York. This book has been the dear companion for us in our work with the songs.

The music in this song is sounding as evil as the words of the poem are. Blake himself felt the violence of this poem so overwhelming that he abandoned it, left the printing of the plate uncoloured and didn't add it to the rest of the collection of Songs. Fortunately he didn't destroy the plate, so we could make some good music to the words 200 years later.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming

Allan Skrobe: bass

Tomas Erlandsson: drums

11b. THE LILLY

(Songs of Experience)

We see the Rose as the flower of love; the Sheep is soft and humble. Most often we see the Lily as the flower of death and funerals. In this poem all these connections are turned around. The Rose has thorns; the sheep has horns, and are therefore not reliable. The Lily is always white and beautiful. She is the true 'modest' and 'humble', lowering her head in silent beauty.

This song is the respectful ending in calm, letting the listener breathe for a moment after such a cruel song as the previous.

Cristin: vocals

Kent: guitars, keyboards, programming