Sometimes life gets in the way of creating your DIY music zine, and such has been the way of the past couple of months for me. With so much life going on (almost all of it good, thankfully) there have been plenty of fantastic releases that I’ve missed the opportunity to share with you. Foremost amongst these is Achemy Hand, the latest EP from perennial Joyzine favourite Piney Gir and her second release for the wonderful Reckless Yes Records. It follows last year’s Astral Spectra EP and a recent appearance on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage as part of Noel Gallagher’s band (which she spoke about on Joyzine here).
Taking the dark psych-pop and spiritual explorations of its predecessor and bringing a strong feminist ethos closer to the surface while sprinkling her ecclectic musical influences throughout, from angular alt-rock guitars to vintage girl group backing vocals, it might just be my favourite Piney Gir release yet (though I say that with pretty much every new record she puts out).
We caught up with Piney for a track by track guide to the record.
Alchemy Hand’ is about finding spirituality, magic and folklore in everyday life.
I wrote this EP as a pep talk to myself after a weird couple of years; we’ve been through a lot collectively and individually. When the world slowed down, I used the opportunity to educate myself about feminist history. I was especially inspired by stories about the witches of Salem; these women were abused and killed simply for being educated, for being unmarried, or just because they were different… I got a little angry, a little sad, and yet I felt some hope, look how far we’ve come! I used this fire to write these songs, that ultimately are uplifting, designed to empower using faith and hope; channeling our everyday magic. It also celebrates those people who forge their own path. Being a bit different is tough, but nothing new would ever happen without risk! I am grateful for my fellow misfits, witches and underdogs heroically pushing to change the boundaries. This EP explores those themes and I hope it will inspire people to celebrate diversity by recognising our history (or herstory even!).
Alchemy Hand – A through-the-looking-glass dream, the track serves equal parts wonder and apprehension, circling rhythms and melody, drawing you onward in a welcome but reverent trance. The song lyrics contain a real spell for the age-old magic of Alchemy: sulphur, mercury and salt that legend says, if combined, will create gold; I believe this to be a metaphor, the union of energies creating strength, togetherness, and hope.
The Seventh Dial – You might know Seven Dials smack in the middle of London’s Covent Garden, Dickens vilified the ‘brawling women of Seven Dials’ in his book Tale Of Two Cities. These women were considered vermin, lower than low; treated like invisible women who were better left unseen. ‘The Seventh Dial’ takes us back in time, telling the story of these unsung antiheroines, echoing their ghosts that live on “Can you see me now?” they sing, haunting to infinity.
Who’s Calling You Wild? – If a woman’s unconventional, she’s labelled “wild” or worse, but who’s calling her that? Twisting the tendency where women are judged, I wanted to turn that around to say – Who’s pointing that finger? & Maybe they should look at themselves. Nobody should live in fear of judgement, in the past, our ancestors who challenged the norm would be persecuted and sometimes suffer grave consequences.
Psychopomp – Psychopomps are creatures, spirits, angels, demons or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife. Kind of like the Grim Reaper, every culture has a psychopomp type-of figure. I took this sombre theme and found the hope in it, encouraging the loved ones left behind, still living on Earth to find the light, “the power in you lives…” she sings with bending, emotional slide guitar. I lost someone close to me while making this EP, someone I couldn’t see because the world was locked down, it was heartbreaking and it inspired this song.
Alchemy Hand EP is out now via Reckless Yes Records. Order via Bandcamp
Introduction by Paul Maps