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The Valerie Project - The Valerie Project

Released on Drag City, 11/20/07

For some reason I was reminded of the film The Dark Crystal the first time I listened to The Valerie Project. This is not your everyday soundtrack or folk album for that matter. There are 30 tracks, each consisting of a miniature song lasting between 40 seconds and 3 minutes. The music is dreamlike and ethereal. Each short vignette carries its own emotional chord and is tied to the next track by eerie strings of bells and an acid-folk-appropriate electric guitar rift.

The album is in fact based on a film, a cult Czech erotic horror movie from the 70s called Valerie and Her Week of Wonders directed by Jaromil Jires. It’s a surrealist folk tale revolving around Valerie, a young girl experiencing hallucination-like dreams along with her first menstruation. Perverted monks, incestuous distant cousins, along with a healthy dose of vampires and witchcraft complete Valerie’s eclectic journey.

Jires’ film, part of the Czech New Wave movement, has resurfaced and gained momentum with an almost cult-like following among folk fans worldwide. Not least of which includes a 10-person collective from Philadelphia calling themselves The Valerie Project, who created an entirely original new soundtrack as an alternative to be played with the 35mm print. The original soundtrack to Valerie and Her Week of Wonders features a score by Lubos Fiser and has already become a favorite among folk fans. So why, one might ask, make an alternative?

“Joseph Gervasi and I had been talking about doing a synergistic film/music project for some time, and both of us brought up Valerie,” explains Greg Weeks in an interview with Bryce Edwards for New York Press. “It so happened that Joseph owned a 16mm print of the film. I was obsessed with how relevant the film was to certain sub cultural movements of the time, not to mention blown away by its dreamlike imagery, old-world purity, psychedelic candor and mesmerizing soundtrack.”

The Valerie Project started as an event in New York City’s Anthology Film Archives. Spearheaded by Espers’ Greg Weeks and Brook Sietinsons as well as Fern Knight’s Margie Wienk. Others members include Helena Espvall also of Espers, Mary Lattimore, Jesse Sparhawk of Timesbold, Jessica Weeks of Woodwose and Grass, Charles Cohen and Jim Avre both of Fern Knight.

The success of the New York event has led to a US and European tour, kicking off on October 28th at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It also included a Halloween screening at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael on October 31st.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars