Penelope Trappes, is a London based vocalist, musician and ethereal soundscaper originally from the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia. She spent 2016 writing and recording what would become her first solo album, ‘Penelope One’ in a piano studio in East London. Composed of mostly percussion-less, reverb-heavy haunting atmospherics with dystopian themes, the LP was released via Optimo Music in 2017 on vinyl and as a photo book. The first single ‘Puppets’ premiered by opening the Fendi SS17 runway show.
Penelope signed to Houndstooth in 2018 and released her sophomore LP ‘Penelope Two’ to critical acclaim. The minimalist, ethereal album was built around field recordings, meditations, guitars, synth drones, piano and reverb, and deals with mortality, predestination and empathy. 2019 saw the release of ‘Penelope Redeux’ consisting of reworks of songs from ‘Penelope Two’ by Cosey Fanni Tutti, Mogwai, Félicia Atkinson, Nik Colk Void and more. ‘Penelope Three’ will be out in the second half of 2020 on Houndstooth.
“Summoning the great ghosts of vintage 4AD and Kranky, the Australian singer and producer makes inky dream pop that’s as heavy and welcoming as a weighted blanket.” Philip Sherburne, Pitchfork
Gnostic State references a world punctuated with mercurial and arcane moments. Expansive space, mentally and musically, makes way for what at first seem like imperceptible turns: hints of voice, breath, plants, synths, field recordings of relatives and of myself in my studio. All become part of an unpredictable and far-reaching sphere. I felt very free focusing in and creating this in one day – it truly felt like a microcosm of life as we try to find universal knowledge in all daily happenings, looking for links between incident and reason.
I feel that listening comes from a receptive place in oneself, to explore more subtle levels of meaning and intention in sound. It is an ongoing practice of suspending egotistical, reactive thinking and opening one's awareness to the unknown and unexpected. I believe that these contemplative moments, with their cultivation of self-awareness and compassion, may offer the best hope for transforming dysfunctional and damaging social habits, and might possibly be integral for future survival. Perhaps humans could bring about a major shift in our society by better learning to micro-listen, empathetically and compassionately, across diversity and difference.
This has become one of the most important albums of my life. It’s essence is indescribable. Every sound from the start of the record through the end is placed delicately and with care. The album cover is by Julie Mehretu. It’s absolutely an incredible release for which I shall be eternally grateful. Aniket