Images by Shervin Lainez
Brooklyn sisters Karen and Monika Walker describe their musical incarnation, The New Tarot, as “post-genre” – which might be the most helpful codification we’ve heard yet. In fact, it is perhaps their moniker itself that actually affords the greatest clue as to their overarching philosophical bent.
Three EPs into their existence, a first full album is at last on the way – the mystically titled The Book of Promises is due sometime later this year. If you can believe…it will be a sci-fi rock opera, based on the reincarnation of 16th Century English mathematician, astronomer and occult philosopher John Dee (you can see him advising the Queen – as played by Cate Blanchett – in the 2007 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Which, surely, is a welcome break from all the lyrical blubbering about broken hearted sadness as proffered by so many of their contemporaries.
In the lead up, BlackBook premieres here “The Skinny,” the first song and video from the album. Like, say, Bat For Lashes, it aesthetically weds a sort of Anglo-Saxon folk-witchery with zeitgeisty synth-pop stylizing and Wicca ideology. To be sure, it would fit not uncomfortably besides any number of classic 4AD recordings.
“It is our first visual introduction to the Book of Promises and our album’s hero,” explains sister Monika. “Clearing out his mother’s house after her death, John remembers a book she had warned him about. He finds it in a box in her basement; inside the book are instructions for summoning an angel. He follows them, and finds himself transported to a realm between worlds.”
Directed by Julia Barrett-Mitchell, it presents a trippy, sylvan ritual, that is at once unsettling and yet seemingly alive with spiritual abandon.
“As a film director with a strong background in narrative films and great passion for mythology,” she enthuses, “I was delightfully surprised to learn that the whole album is a retelling of a hero’s journey. It was refreshing to work with a band that is inspired by mysticism, because we have that in common. The concept for this video was simply pulled from the adaptation of John Dee’s journey as it unfolds in the album, and involves magic, curiosity, greed and an inability to resist the call to adventure…and also implies that the story continues.”