Skip directly to content

Distortion

  • 327036

News & Reviews

  • The Magnetic Fields' 50 Song Memoir, which chronicles the fifty years of songwriter Stephin Merritt's life with one song per year, is due March 10 on Nonesuch. Merritt spoke with writer Michael Hill about the project, from its conception over lunch (with Nonesuch's Bob Hurwitz) through the songwriting (nonfiction material making its first appearance in his work) to its recording (he sings vocals on all fifty songs and plays more than one hundred instruments).

  • The Magnetic Fields' 50 Song Memoir, chronicling the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt's life with one song per year, is due March 10, 2017, on Nonesuch. Merritt sings vocals on all 50 songs and plays more than 100 instruments, from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics are nonfiction—a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis). Available in five-LP and five-CD editions including an extensive interview by Daniel Handler and facsimile handwritten lyrics by Merritt, and as a standalone bound book with a full-album download card. Pre-order to download one song from each decade now. For a limited time, Nonesuch Store pre-orders also come with an exclusive autographed print.

  • About This Album

    Buy Distortion on CD at the Nonesuch Store to receive the free bonus download of Stephin Merritt's "The Man of a Million Faces."

    The Magnetic Fields’ Distortion was released by Nonesuch Records on January 15, 2008. The band’s eighth album, and second Nonesuch release, is a follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed i, an album whose songs all began with the letter “i,” and whose sound Magnetic Fields songwriter and frontman Stephin Merritt has referred to as “self-conciously soft rock.” Distortion is both a departure from and a response to i: an album of three-minute power-pop songs, composed and produced by Merritt and co-sung by Merritt and his longtime friend Shirley Simms. (Simms also sang on Merritt’s 1999 opus, 69 Love Songs.)

    On Distortion, every instrument (except the drums) was made to purposely feed back, creating a distorted ambient roar that informs this album’s sound. “I don’t know if anyone has done feedback piano before,” Merritt explains. “The whole record has feedback acoustic piano. We put the amplifier directly up against the frame of the piano and turned it up enough to start feeding back.” The album also features feedback guitar, feedback cello, and even feedback accordion.

    Distortion may startle those fans of Merritt’s who are more used to his quieter approach on the last Magnetic Fields album, but he is quick to point out that his decade-plus career has produced a wide range of styles. He jokes, “Many of my rock-oriented fans refused to buy any record called Showtunes,” referring to his 2006 compilation of songs from his work with Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zeng, and adds; “So this one is for them.”

    The initial inspiration for Distortion was the upfront metal-machine drone and submerged Ronettes romanticism of Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 post-punk landmark Psychocandy. Merritt takes that concept a step further, radically altering the entire sound of his chamber-pop ensemble (cellist Sam Davol, pianist Claudia Gonson, and lead guitarist John Woo, plus Daniel Handler on accordion). His goal was “to sound more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Jesus and Mary Chain.”

    In 1999, the Magnetic Fields’ three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Stephin Merritt as one of this generation’s most talented songwriters, and their most recent album, i, followed in 2004. Merritt has also released numerous other albums with his bands Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April, the theater album Showtunes, and a record of songs to accompany the popular Lemony Snicket books, entitled The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events.

     

    Credits

    MUSICIANS
    Made by Stephin Merritt with:
    Sam Davol, cello
    Claudia Gonson, drums, Farfisa organ, piano, backing vocals
    Daniel Handler, accordion
    Shirley Simms, vocals
    John Woo, lead guitar

    A. Klasinski, I. Pearle, R. Stevens, orgiasts
    No synths

    PRODUCTION CREDITS
    Recording and additional production: Charles Newman at Mother West, NY
    Assistant engineer: Robert Stevens
    Mix: Stephin Merritt, Charles Newman and Tom Rogers
    Mastering: Jeff Lipton at Peerless, Boston
    Additional mastering: Tom Rogers

    All songs by Stephin Merritt

    Design: Evan Gaffney Design
    Logo: Michael English

nonesuch's picture
on May 29, 2008 - 7:14pm
Artist Name: 
The Magnetic Fields
Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - 05:00
DescriptionExcerpt: 

Wry lyrics combine with fuzzed-out guitar, cello, piano, and accordion for "bubblegum melodies in a bouquet of barbed wire" (MOJO); Stephin Merritt and Shirley Simms (69 Love Songs) trade off on lead vocals. Nonesuch Store bonus download with CD or vinyl: "The Man of a Million Faces," Merritt's solo song for NPR's Project Song. LP version includes complete album on CD and MP3.

Description: 

Buy Distortion on CD at the Nonesuch Store to receive the free bonus download of Stephin Merritt's "The Man of a Million Faces."

The Magnetic Fields’ Distortion was released by Nonesuch Records on January 15, 2008. The band’s eighth album, and second Nonesuch release, is a follow-up to 2004’s critically acclaimed i, an album whose songs all began with the letter “i,” and whose sound Magnetic Fields songwriter and frontman Stephin Merritt has referred to as “self-conciously soft rock.” Distortion is both a departure from and a response to i: an album of three-minute power-pop songs, composed and produced by Merritt and co-sung by Merritt and his longtime friend Shirley Simms. (Simms also sang on Merritt’s 1999 opus, 69 Love Songs.)

On Distortion, every instrument (except the drums) was made to purposely feed back, creating a distorted ambient roar that informs this album’s sound. “I don’t know if anyone has done feedback piano before,” Merritt explains. “The whole record has feedback acoustic piano. We put the amplifier directly up against the frame of the piano and turned it up enough to start feeding back.” The album also features feedback guitar, feedback cello, and even feedback accordion.

Distortion may startle those fans of Merritt’s who are more used to his quieter approach on the last Magnetic Fields album, but he is quick to point out that his decade-plus career has produced a wide range of styles. He jokes, “Many of my rock-oriented fans refused to buy any record called Showtunes,” referring to his 2006 compilation of songs from his work with Chinese theatre director Chen Shi-Zeng, and adds; “So this one is for them.”

The initial inspiration for Distortion was the upfront metal-machine drone and submerged Ronettes romanticism of Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 post-punk landmark Psychocandy. Merritt takes that concept a step further, radically altering the entire sound of his chamber-pop ensemble (cellist Sam Davol, pianist Claudia Gonson, and lead guitarist John Woo, plus Daniel Handler on accordion). His goal was “to sound more like Jesus and Mary Chain than Jesus and Mary Chain.”

In 1999, the Magnetic Fields’ three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Stephin Merritt as one of this generation’s most talented songwriters, and their most recent album, i, followed in 2004. Merritt has also released numerous other albums with his bands Future Bible Heroes, the Gothic Archies, and the 6ths, as well as soundtracks to the films Eban and Charley and Pieces of April, the theater album Showtunes, and a record of songs to accompany the popular Lemony Snicket books, entitled The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events.

 

ProductionCredits: 

PRODUCTION CREDITS
Recording and additional production: Charles Newman at Mother West, NY
Assistant engineer: Robert Stevens
Mix: Stephin Merritt, Charles Newman and Tom Rogers
Mastering: Jeff Lipton at Peerless, Boston
Additional mastering: Tom Rogers

All songs by Stephin Merritt

Design: Evan Gaffney Design
Logo: Michael English

Cover Art: 
Nonesuch Selection Number: 

327036

Number of Discs in Set: 
1disc
ns_album_artistid: 
185
ns_album_id: 
683
ns_album_releasedate: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 - 05:00
ns_genre_1: 
0
ns_genre_2: 
0
Album Status: 
UPC/Price: 
Label: 
CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597996548BUN
Price: 
11.00
Label: 
MP3
UPC: 
075597980318
Price: 
10.00
Label: 
LP+CD+MP3
UPC: 
075597993875BUN
Price: 
0.00
MusicianDetails: 

MUSICIANS
Made by Stephin Merritt with:
Sam Davol, cello
Claudia Gonson, drums, Farfisa organ, piano, backing vocals
Daniel Handler, accordion
Shirley Simms, vocals
John Woo, lead guitar

A. Klasinski, I. Pearle, R. Stevens, orgiasts
No synths

[{"parent":{"title":"Get on the list !","body":" Get exclusive information about NONESUCH tour dates, video premieres and special announcements ","field_newsletter_id":"14075483","field_label_list_id":"6389157","field_display_rates":"-1","field_preview_mode":"false","field_lbox_height":"","field_lbox_width":"","field_toaster_timeout":"6000","field_toaster_position":"From Bottom","field_turnkey_height":"400"}}]

Performs On