Most Octobers, I reach for the spectral music of Jill Tracy to get into the mood for Halloween. Yet this year, I’m visiting her latest work, The Dark Day, to process the catastrophe of the recent West Coast wildfires and to help provide aid to the victims of this disaster.
Tracy is a San Francisco artist who has a number of darkly gorgeous records to her name, which include exquisite solo piano works, albums of shadowy cabaret songs and gothic Victorian orchestral music. (2002’s Into The Land of Phantoms, an elegantly eerie soundtrack to FW Murnau’s Nosferatu by Tracy and The Malcontent Orchestra—is a personal favorite of mine this time of year.)
While Tracy’s music is naturally of a more mysterious and even macabre nature, The Dark Day might just be her most haunting release yet. Across the benefit EP’s three tracks, Tracy pours all of the sorrow, fear and confusion that she felt the first day the outbreak of forest fires turned the sky and landscape into an unsettling jack-o-lantern orange straight into her piano playing.
When you hear these contemplative unaccompanied piano tracks, you immediately feel that something is deeply off. Despite their quiet beauty, there’s a palpable anxiety in the tempo and melodies of each song that tells you there’s really a nightmare going on.
As per the liner notes, Tracy confirms that this particular feeling in these tracks completely echo how she felt when the skies above her San Francisco home grew into the color of flames: “When I opened my eyes the morning of September 9, 2020, the bedroom was pitch black. Likely I had set the clock incorrectly—it was obviously the middle of the night. But the phone’s screen glowed 9:30am. I crept out of bed, into the living room, and met with more eerie consuming darkness. But all the drapes were open. Everything was completely silent. Not even a bird was chirping. The only thing I could hear was my heart beginning to beat faster. Something was definitely wrong.”
Tracy was so moved by the horrific events that unfolded throughout her state, she decided to give 50% of all proceeds from The Dark Day to the California Fire Foundation. The foundation allows frontline firefighters in the state of California to provide SAVE gift cards to eligible victims of natural disasters and fires, so they could buy basic essentials, like clothing, medicine or food.
Her liner notes continue to elaborate, “Many who have had to evacuate barely escaped with the clothes on their back, some in pajamas, barefoot, have lost their home and all possessions. I want to do my small part to help. Your donations are appreciated and crucial for me during this difficult time. I thank you.”
Please consider helping those who lost so much in the wildfires this summer, by purchasing Tracy’s latest EP. Click here to make you purchase today.
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