A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees

by Sxip Shirey

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So Stay 04:09
Awake 04:26
Fat Robot 03:39
Palms 04:52


“Sxip fascinates me. His music sounds like stories. He works in the places where noise becomes music and does things that make you realize there are no boundaries between noise and music—or not like you imagine.”—Neil Gaiman

“…his performances seem a combination of careful planning and spur-of-the-moment inspiration.”—The New York Times

“The multifaceted New York-based musician is renowned for his kaleidoscopic array of gewgaws and gadgets repurposed for performances by a one-man gonzo orchestra…his résumé doubles as a passport of imposing sophistication and variety.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Shirey has been traveling the world with a circus (appropriately called LIMBO) since his last album, Sonic New York. He’s been inventing a manifesto of bells, whistles, broken glass, screaming brakes, and blistering love affairs. A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees was written drunk and damp in Edinburgh, hot and hungry in Bogota, swaying in the top of the red double deckers in London, and skulking with acrobats in the scorch of Adelaide.

The seventeen songs on the album shift from frenzy to soothe without notice. They are slapsticks to the cheek, tongues to the ear, and the sort of rhythms that might, if pounded hard enough, restart the heart of a dead dancer. They are blood sucked to the surface of a woman’s throat in a dark barroom, a man singing alone in a spaceship, untethered.

Listening to them is akin to listening to the exploding circus organ Shirey once played at the Sydney Opera House for a fleet of pyrotechnic clowns – that is, if you managed by some fluke of the universe to simultaneously be listening to the hillbilly songs he once played in a Transylvanian Romany camp with his band the Luminescent Orchestrii, as well as to the piece using no instruments beyond two people breathing into one another’s mouths. Throw in a round of Shirey performing as an invited Master of Ceremonies with his JANK band at Madonna’s birthday party last year, and another of his recent “Gauntlet,” a choir singing a piece meant to be walked through, and you begin to understand the alchemical nature of A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees.”

-Maria Dahvana Headley


released January 13, 2017


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National Sawdust Tracks New York

National Sawdust Tracks is the non-profit, in-house record label and recording studio of National Sawdust; an artist-led, multidisciplinary new music venue in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Jeffrey Zeigler, Label Director
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