Camp Saint Helene – Album Release Show


Thu, May 16, 2024    
8:00 pm


Colony Woodstock NY
22 Rock City Rd, Woodstock, New York

Event Type

For Camp Saint Helene, the concept of otherworldliness is neither strange nor complex, but alluring and holy. Created by Elizabeth Celeste Ibarra, Dylan Nowik, Wesley Harper and Alex Wernquest, they approach their craft akin to a ritual, leaning into the notion that art and expression are sacred experiences on an overstimulated planet. Often informed by the spirit of a defunct Christian-summer camp turned arts-colony deep within the mountains of New York, their music searches for shimmers of hope amidst hints of doom.
Their new album, Of Earth and its Timely Delights, measures the distance between grief and possibility. It is a meditation on earth-time in relation to the cosmic, the lyrics a commentary on big-picture themes such as personal and collective revolution, dystopias, greed, love and human connection. With an urgency that is both thoughtful and experimental, the sound of Camp Saint Helene is a collaborative endeavor; a sonic enmeshing of each member’s individual character.
Of Earth and its Timely Delights is a journey with no destination; a constant rediscovery of self, amidst shifting fields of perception.
“Farfisa Song”, off their debut record Mother (2019), was named KEXP’s Song of the Day and added to KEXP Music that Matters Vol. 683 by Cheryl Waters. She describes Camp Saint Helene as “[ing] to mind the ’60s California folk scene with their gentle, waltz-like pastoral sound”.
Additionally, “Farfisa Song” was featured predominantly both in Amazon Prime’s teen horror drama, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (2022) and Zoe Lister-Jones’ series SLIP on The Roku Channel (2023). Mother was named by Bandcamp as a New and Notable record of 2019, describing it as “Occult-folk in the 70’s U.K. tradition that further affirms the link between Appalachian and British folk songs”.
In 2023, they were commissioned by NADA x Foreland to present a live performance and installation piece titled “Into the Garden” for Upstate Art Weekend in Catskill, NY.
Both Mother & Of Earth and its Timely Delights were recorded to 16-track, 1⁄2” tape, at Basement Floods Records in Catskill, New York.
Helen Ballentine’s spellbinding first full-length album Quiet the Room is the sound of a window opening, a barrier dissolving. Across these fourteen tracks, the outside world seeps in and the inside world crawls out. The result is a stunning and quietly moving work that reflects the journeys we take through the physical and spiritual realms of ourselves in order to show up for the world.
While writing the album in the summer of 2021, Ballentine drew inspiration from her childhood home in Mount Vernon, NY. What she set out to capture on Quiet the Room was not the innocence of childhood, as it is so often portrayed, but the intense complexity of it. Past and present merge Escher-like in this dreamlike space laced with elements of fantasy, magic, and mystery. Musically, this translates into a sound that feels somehow weighty and ephemeral all at once, like a time lapse of copper corroding.
To capture the effortless blend of electronic, ambient, folk, and rock, Ballentine and her collaborator Noah Weinman brought in producer Andrew Sarlo to record at Chicken Shack studio in Upstate New York, close to where Ballentine grew up. “We wanted every song to have that little twinkle, but also a sense of crumbling,” she says. These songs thrum with moments of anxiety that boil over into moments of peace, as on lead single “Whatever Fits Together,” which chugs to a ragged start before the gears catch and ease. On “It’s Like a Secret,” Ballentine struggles to connect and let people in, recognizing that no one can ever fully know our inner worlds and that to understand each other is to cross a barrier and leave a part of ourselves behind. And yet, on closing track “You are my House,” she finds a way to reach out. “You are the walls and floors of my room,” she sings in perfect, hopeful harmony.
As the album cover invites, these are dollhouse songs to which we bend a giant eye, peering into the laminate, luminous world that Ballentine has created. Like a kid constructing a shelter in a patch of sharp brambles, she reminds us that beauty and terror can exist in the same place. The complexities of childhood are so often overlooked, but through these private yet generous songs, she gives new weight to our earliest memories, widening the frame for us—even opening a window.