EX:RE – ” Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble “

Posted: February 22, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

Elena Tonra of Daughter resumes her Ex:Re moniker to present a reinterpretation of her debut solo album. “Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble”, released today, is a collaboration between Tonra, classical composer Josephine Stephenson and one of the UK’s leading string orchestras, 12 Ensemble.  Originally released in 2018, Ex:Re (pronounced “Ex Ray” and meaning “regarding Ex”) laid bare Tonra’s unfiltered internal monologue after the end of a relationship.  Containing her most personal lyrics to date and brought into being with the help of Stephenson and producer/drummer Fabian Prynn, Ex:Re struck a chord with the broken-hearted and brought closure to a chapter in Tonra’s life.

Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble reimagines and complements its predecessor.  It was recorded by Fabian Prynn during performances at Kings Place (the multi-arts venue in London’s King’s Cross neighbourhood) on the 30th November 2019, where Tonra was joined onstage by Stephenson on piano and the 12-piece string orchestra, 12 Ensemble.  

Josephine Stephenson, a celebrated composer, arranger and performer, was approached by Kings Place to curate an event for their “Venus Unwrapped” 2019 season.  Stephenson saw space in the programming for a live performance that bridged the gap between the classical and non-classical worlds, and having recently been involved with Ex:Re, collaborating once more with Tonra made perfect sense.

Stephenson’s new arrangements of the original Ex:Re album into classical form strip back the songs, heightening the emotion and vulnerability of the lyrics.  “Working with acoustic instruments was an opportunity to add subtle, yet tangible dynamic details to highlight Elena’s words.  As the Ex:Re songs are often built from loops, I enjoyed exploring the multitude of possible variations and reinventions within these, adding counter-melodies and making small changes in harmony or voicing.  After touring with the Ex:Re band for a year, I knew the songs inside out, and had already started expanding and orchestrating them in my head. I  also felt fearless knowing I was writing for the 12 Ensemble, who are all exceptionally talented musicians and comfortable in all sorts of genres.“

Tonra and Stephenson found respite in the recordings months after the Kings Place performance.  “We were mixing the record while concerts and events around the world were being cancelled and postponed, so it was really moving to listen to the audio over and over during that time.  The sound of a room filled with people was, and is, something we were all greatly missing” says Tonra.  Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble, mixed by Jonathan Lefèvre-Reich, warps the space between audience and performer.  It places the listener in the centre of the music, surrounded by a semi-circular wall of string sounds, to recreate the experience of the performance from up close.  “There is also some magic in there” says Tonra, “Jonathan added some beautiful moments of story-telling in the mix.  On ‘New York’, for example, the strings suddenly feel as though they are dripping down the sides of your head.”

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