I found out that Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamato had died as I was driving through London last Sunday afternoon. They started playing his songs on the radio and it was weird watching all the people on the streets just going about their lives as we drove past them listening to this strange otherworldly music. It transformed everything around us and made everyone else seem strange and otherworldly too. It was odd and sad and unbelievably beautiful.
Angelica Rockne might not sound anything like Ryuichi Sakamato, but she does make the kind of music that completely transforms the world around you when you listen to it. There is an exquisite well-mapped beauty to her songs. You can almost see the shape of them appearing in the air as you listen to them. A roughly plucked guitar, a delicate piano, the sweeping orchestration and her soaring, open-hearted voice dragging them all across these imaginary musical landscapes.
“The Rose Society is that place you return to for respite,” Rockne explained to us. “An unexpected sanctuary found behind eroding city streets, and when you arrive you kind of collapse because you can. This tune also pays homage to the parts of ourselves that were never seen, or could never fully come into the light.”
Mixing the intimate and the eccentric, her lyrics have a wonderfully detailed romanticism that infuses each track with the weightiness of a great American novel and the intimacy of a newly unearthed field recording; her voice echoing the emotional depths of Judee Sill and the otherworldliness of Karen Dalton.
"I wrote this song after a breakup while living in Oakland," Rockne explained about how the song came about. "Things felt disorienting, a feeling I had come to know well, with my constant movement. Anytime I’ve lived in a city it has always taken a great deal to remain in balance and sane. The rose garden off of Grant, was my place, an emblem of all things safety and healing."
From simple understated beginnings the song builds until a choir of vocals and the widescreen string arrangement lift Rockne’s voice up into somewhere that feels truly transcendent as she belts out the refrain, “Pray for the light that we could never shine.”
‘The Rose Society’ is premiering exclusively on Holler below.
‘The Rose Society’ is the title track to her second album, due on Loose Records in May. The new album is the follow up to her stunning 2017 debut Queen of San Antonio. A coming-of-age ode to a town and a group of friends and carefree 1970s lifestyle they were all living, it was a glorious blend of cosmic country and rich Laurel Canyon folk.
For the new album Rockne brought in long-time collaborators Jason Cirimele on guitar and bass, Cody Rhodes on drums and percussion, and a new friend, Patrick McGee, on piano and organ, and self-produced the record with Oz Fritz at the helm. Recording in a small studio in Nevada City, California, they referenced everything from Ethiopian jazz to Stravinsky, back to folk standards and iconic rock like Harry Nilsson’s Pussy Cats, produced by John Lennon. Rockne continued to sculpt the material for eight more months before developing a strategy for string arrangements with Scott McDowell, Graham Patzner, and Lewis Patzner at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco.
The Rose Society is released on Loose on 5th May. Click here to presave and preorder.