The Hieronymus Bosch painting known as The Conjurer (c.1475–1505) has held a constant position in the back of my consciousness for several weeks - being emblematic of the dangerous political world we find ourselves in. It represents the ease, and apparent willingness, of people to repeatedly fall for the simple distraction techniques of the travelling charlatan, including the oldest slight-of-hand illusion of them all: Le Tourniquet, or The French Drop.
As I write this, my world, and quite likely yours, has radically changed from only one month ago. Most of us are under quarantine restrictions due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus. Our daily lives and, in my case, my creative one, have needed to constrict and reshape. Lance Austin Olsen is only minutes away by car, yet he may as well be on the other side of the planet right now. Our normal way of collaborating for the past 20 years, improvising together in a small backyard studio, has transformed into ubiquitous online file sharing and discussions. I cannot see or predict his actions, nor he mine. We have both become conjurers, revealing to the other person only a resulting veneer, a stage of dislocated props.
This album was born of these unique conditions.
Without mentioning the Bosch painting to Lance, I requested he send me his suggestion for the cover artwork. In the triptych he sent, I immediately noticed that a small collaged element contained all four of the dominant colours from the Bosch painting. They were not just similar, they were virtually identical to Bosch’s distinct palette and, further, that the collaged piece could easily be interpreted as being dropped by a skeletal hand into a chasm of black, much like The French Drop.
The French Drop is the 50th release in the Infrequency Editions catalogue, and represents another evolution of the two decade long Drouin/Olsen collaborative effort. This album is indicative of our nervous current atmosphere, the uncertainty, and the calculated distractions of those around us, but it also offers glimpses at open spaces beyond the horizon. These distant spaces still remain fluid and reflective.
released April 8, 2020
The French Drop is dedicated to Brian Olewnick for being the man who sees through every trick.