We all remember the scary stories we used to read when we were kids. The ones that would make your skin crawl and keep you up at night. As a musician with a knack for writing songs about death and eerie themes, Keith McCurdy dives into the depths of similar darkness, with the end result conveying fascinating stories. His band Vudu Sister exudes that in wonderful fashion with their third studio album, Mortis Nervosa, which is being premiered on Vanyaland today.
Much like Vudu Sister’s 2012 debut Bastard Children, McCurdy is joined by a cast of musicians: multi-instrumentalist Michael Samos, violinist Diane O’Connor, bassist Amato Zinno from The Z-Boys and Last Good Tooth, The Huntress and Holder of Hands’ MorganEve Swain on viola, John Marlowe on banjo and The Sugar Honey Iced Tea’s Kate Jones on backing vocals. The collective come together nicely for a haunting gothic folk record.
“We recorded it live at the Columbus Theatre to tape, completely analog and it was a breeze to do,” McCurdy says. “The record is loosely based on stories from the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, which is a collection of folklore. There is an influence from Edgar Allan Poe, Grimm’s tales and gothic literature. We were definitely trying to capture a British and New England Gothic-Victorian aesthetic. I have been listening to a lot of Romantic era classical music and a lot of Chopin. Also PJ Harvey’sWhite Chalk album has been a big figure in my listening the last couple of years. I’ve also been obsessed with Agnes Obel’sAventine record along with a whole lot of Rasputina. There’s very little grunge or folk music in mind, at least not deliberately.”
With McCurdy’s poetic lyrics and the dark tones throughout his songwriting, Vudu Sister’s influences are quite interesting once you hear how they all meld together into something stunningly original.
A bluesy song with O’Connor and Swain accenting the track with their pristine skills on violin and viola, “White Satin Evening Gown” has the chorus of “Just wanna try it on” being ingrained into your consciousness at multiple intervals. The Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark influence is noticeable in “The Haunted House”, the track provides an image of a blood covered abode with evil ghosts present inside. It’s suspenseful along with a flurry of string instruments backing up McCurdy’s sinister lyrics. Paying tribute to the beast of the northern woods, “The Wendigo” has an orchestral vibe to it with McCurdy singing about eating people to feed your demons. Definitely one for the culinary experts.
Tonight Vudu Sister will be celebrating the release of Mortis Nervosa at the Columbus Theatre with doom metal act Bloodpheasant and artsy rock and rollers Pixels. An extravaganza of the gothic and macabre ways of storytelling will be taking place and spirits will be raised to the stage. Listen to the album in full below.