Isobel, Isabella, Isabel: A Pola X Mixtape

isabel 01

The image of a girl in the woods has been following me around for years. It has informed my daydreams, nightmares, dreamscapes, artistic pursuits and waking life in so many ways that I can no longer chart its influence. I am aware of why it’s there (the reason, however, is unfortunate) and it’s no surprise that it has returned to me as of late.

Coincidentally, three of the tracks here reference women with similar names. Even more coincidentally, their stories and imagery are rooted in the woods, whether “born in a forest by a spark” (Isobel), exhuming the bones of a ghost (Isabella) or simply seeming to emerge from them like a specter of her own (Isabel).

These references began with Leos Carax’s Pola X (1999). With time most of the songs began to form a cohesive whole, somewhat referencing the film. There is a gently discordant cover of Beck’s lesser-known Painted Eyelids and a gender reversal of Angel Olsen’s Creator, Destroyer,” as well as a selection from Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (2014), a film that also deals with rebellion, transgression, isolation and loss.

In fact at one point its central character, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), finds her soul reflected in nature- a solitary and bent limb atop a stony cliff. She later sums up her intentions in reference to it: “I will stand up against all odds, just like a deformed tree on a hill.”

The statement is tentative, but there’s strength in it too. It seemed appropriate.

Download Isobel, Isabella, Isabel here (via Box)

1) Scott Walker – “Light” (from Pola X, 1999)
2) Emile Haynie – “Come Find Me” (from We Fall, 2015)
3) Björk – “Isobel” (from Post, 1995)
4) Ratigan – “Painted Eyelids” (from Painted Eyelids, 2012)
5) Francis Wolf – “Isabella” (self-released, 2014)
6) Henrik Dam Thomsen & Ulrich Stærk – “Sonata For Violin And Piano In A Major For Cello” (from Nymphomaniac, 2014)
7) Thom Yorke – “Interference” (from Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, 2014)
8) Scott Walker – “Isabel” (from Pola X, 1999)
9) Mario Cuomo – “Creator, Destroyer” (self-released, 2015)

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