Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown | Companion

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Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Avant Garde: Experimental Moods: Mood: Brooding
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by Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown

Art-pop / neuvo singer-songwriter / creative jazz piano-drums duo interspersed with lush embellishments of vocals, guitar, cello and bass.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Oxidized
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
3:39 $0.99
2. I Am the Weather
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
3:23 $0.99
3. Outside My Window
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
5:49 $0.99
4. Rods and Cones
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
4:16 $0.99
5. Little Veins
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
6:02 $0.99
6. In Petra
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
3:16 $0.99
7. Last Attempt
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
5:30 $0.99
8. The Council
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
3:41 $0.99
9. Unrequited
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
4:28 $0.99
10. Four Feet and Rising
Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown
4:41 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Bleak and brilliant” – Alex Varty, The Georgia Straight

“Her ethereal voice and classically informed arrangements come together in experimental pop that's both listenable and challenging … It's rare to come across a musician so fully formed yet so new to touring and recording.” – Benjamin Boles, Now

In the four years since her beautiful and disturbing 2011 debut Fractography earned ebullient critical praise, one-time Vancouver Chamber Choir vocalist Alicia Hansen has gone from the hell of clinical depression and toxic relationships to the complicated joys of marriage, motherhood, and artistic maturation. Her personal journey has also transformed her already- riveting music, taking its jagged shards of artistic brilliance – dissonant passages combining ominous piano, chillingly ethereal vocals, and abstract lyrics – and rendering them even more powerful in their newfound cohesion.

The result is Companion, a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the singer/pianist and her long-time artistic companion, Juno-winning drummer Ben Brown.

Brown’s diverse background, performing with experimental jazz and pop artist such as Francois Houle and Veda Hille, and most recently studying with the legendary Dame Evelyn Glennie, makes him the perfect musical soulmate for the equally experimental Alicia. The duo – together for close to a decade, but on hiatus when Hansen recorded Fractography – enjoy a singularly symbiotic chemistry that allows Hansen’s compositions to grow and shape-shift in the process of their creation. The subtly and sensitivity of Brown’s drumming gives flight to Hansen’s deep rhythmic impulses, lending courage and inspiration to experimental song structures, abundant improvisation and instrumental odysseys.

The resulting pieces range from the instrumental “I am the Weather,” in which chaotic piano and pounding drum parts reconcile in powerful, fully-orchestrated instrumental choruses, to the haunting “The Council,” in which the lush, layered vocals evoke a tortured, vengeful Sarah McLachlan. The dreamy “Outside my Window” was inspired by the tangled garden outside Hansen’s studio and its daily visitor – an evocative melody showing off her impressive vocal dexterity and haunting delivery against the backdrop of Brown’s earthily ruminative drum lines. The instrumental “Rods and Cones,” named for the receptors in the human eye, shifts from quizzical, perplexing piano lines and their elusive percussion counterpart to driving, cinematic crescendos.

The improv-heavy arrangements – while fully-formed in their original piano and percussion incarnation – are given another dimension by the contributions of the legendary Peggy Lee on cello, Dave Sikula (The Inhabitants) on guitar and Russell Sholberg (Airplane Trio) on bass.

Lyrically, where Fractography was a reflection of Hansen’s then-bleak inner environment, Companion sees her looking outward – quite literally. Having relocated to the lush surroundings of Bowen Island after writing her debut, Alicia drew inspiration from the natural world outside her window, and her lyrics (where they exist) often are used to evoke a sensation or emotion rather than tell stories.

Hansen’s musical influences range all the way from experimental pop artists such as Bjork, P.J. Harvey, and Joanna Newsom to modern jazz artists such as Keith Jarrett and Brad Meldau and broody contemporary composers such as Stravinsky and Prokofiev, Piazzolla and Satie.

She grew up in Vancouver and began studying classical piano at age five, ultimately becoming an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. After countless years devoting herself to classical music, including the completion of another ARCT in voice and a five-year stint as a professional chorister with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Hansen realized she needed to embark on her own creative journey. This led her to earn a degree in jazz piano performance at Vancouver Community College, where she began writing music and met her long-term musical partner, Ben Brown. The struggle to liberate herself from her training proved both difficult and rewarding, plunging Alicia into the darkest period of her life – but ultimately resulted in some of the most innovative music to come out of the country in a very long time.

Also a Vancouver native, Brown’s path of constant musical collaboration, study, and innovation since his early teens has armed him with a daunting arsenal of experience and skill in nearly every imaginable genre. A founding member of the Pugs and Crows, with whom he won the 2010 Galaxy Rising Star Award for Best New Group and the 2013 Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, he has become a key figure in Vancouver’s creative music scene. From the kid in improv class who never turned down a gig, he has grown to be a highly-respected leader in innovative cross-discipline improvisational collaborations.

Hansen and Brown were united by their common goal of pushing conventional boundaries and challenging the definition of ‘song’. Together they seek to create something that is complex and arrestingly unique without sacrificing beauty or accessibility.

Companion is the latest and greatest expression to date of this collaborative artistic vision.



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