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Castor, The Twin

by Dessa

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about

Dessa’s first full-length record, A Badly Broken Code, introduced her to a national audience as a rapper, a singer, and a potent, imaginative lyricist. It earned a binder of superlative reviews from sources like NPR, The Seattle Times, and AM New York. To tour the album, she assembled a small cast of talented instrumentalists to re-interpret the disc for a dynamic live concert. Part rap show and part cabaret, the elegant presentation charmed both audiences and critics—not a negligible feat in hip hop, a genre with its share of purists.
Castor, The Twin captures these new arrangements for ten of Dessa’s strongest previously released songs. It also includes “The Beekeeper,” the haunting advance single from Dessa’s new album due in 2012. Vibraphone, piano, viola, and stand-up bass give the record a classical, sometimes orchestral sound for a beautiful and somber effect. The album is immediately identifiable as an intimate recording of live players, with fingers sliding on frets and raw, expressive vocals. The organic instrumentation pushes Dessa’s lyrics forward, showcasing the imagery and narratives that define her as a songwriter and an emcee.
The album title references the twin brothers Castor and Pollux of Roman mythology, the pair of bright stars in the Gemini constellation. Pollux was part god, a fighter with metal hands. Castor was the mortal of the pair, but the two were inseparable. After cutting her teeth with her Doomtree cohorts behind the boards, this is Dessa’s first record with a wholly organic sound—more tender, human versions of the best material she’s released so far.

“Enchanting.”
–Chicago Tribune

“Dessa has emerged as one of the most diverse and talented artists in indie rap.”
–URB

“A one-woman powerhouse...with a literary sensibility and an aversion to genre clichés”
–Utne Reader

credits

released October 4, 2011

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about

Dessa Minneapolis

Combining wit, tenderness, and poetic sensibility to rare effect, Dessa spins delicate and charged stories and animates them with her expressive alto voice, arresting for its honest, clear simplicity. Transcending the restrictions of genre to reveal an astonishing multi-platform voice. Member of the Doomtree collective. Essayist. Rapper. Amaretto enthusiast. ... more

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Track Name: Palace
Oh, that trouble you’ve been looking for
Came looking for you
Shouldn’t open doors you don’t plan to walk through
If I were you I’d pay my dues before I lose
That trouble you’ve been looking for
Came looking for you
Shouldn’t open doors you don’t plan to walk through
If I were you I’d pay my dues…

You’ve’ got a lot of long answers
To a lot of short questions
You’ve had a lot of last chances
A run of lucky guesses
Say your nerves can stand it
You bet it all and then step back
But if you’re steady handed
Then that glass is shaking, babe
I think you’re gonna find out
That you wore your luck out
That your word’s not worth much here

Oh, that trouble you’ve been looking for
Came looking for you
Shouldn’t open doors you don’t plan to walk through
If I were you I’d pay my dues before I lose
That trouble you’ve been looking for
Came looking for you
Shouldn’t open doors you don’t plan to walk through
If I were you I’d pay my dues…

The angel on your shoulder
She doesn’t say too much these days
And it seems you’re getting older
Faster than most men your age
Cause you toss and you tumble like dice in your bed
No lightning just thunder it roars in your head
That old dream full of numbers that come when they’re called
You wait and you wonder who’ll take on your odds
Track Name: The Beekeeper
Here comes the beekeeper
With her pitcher full of smoke
She’ll put us all to sleep
I hope it’s dreamless and it’s deep
Sweet Prometheus, come home
They took away our fire
And all that this scarcity promotes
Is desperate men and tyrants

What fine design
what hands
what minds
The envy of Eden
our tools and our reason
It’s clear in the animals eyes
We stand
upright
Build fires
at night
Made on the sixth day
To rest on the seventh
And now we just try to survive

Both Surgeon and Farmer
Meet at
And each greets the other with a bow
They’re kindred instruments, you know
The scalpel and the plow
In the shadow of the mountain
We work when work abounds
And we wear out all our prayers
When the work runs out

What fine design
what hands
what minds
The envy of Eden
our tools and our reason
It’s clear in the animals eyes
We stand
upright
Build fires
at night
Made on the sixth day
To rest on the seventh
And now we just try to survive