Mater Dolorosa, “Our Lady Of Sorrows”, the incarnation of Mary pierced through the heart with seven swords, is a fitting title and matron for the solo debut of CrowJane. LA Punk Legend Paul Roessler (Screamers, Nina Hagen, 45 Grave, Deadbeats), after becoming close friends with CrowJane while recording her band Egrets On Ergot, could see that she was in the grips of the kind of crushing woe that’s so often the seed of hard-won transformation. Suspecting the rewards that awaited if she would risk shining a light on her own murk, Roessler took matters into his own hands, and all but locked her in his studio, Kitten Robot. Surrounding her with every available musical instrument, a pen and some paper, he compelled her to face the rawness of loss, abuse, and addiction.
When the palette of existing tones were no longer a match for the depths they plumbed, they were forced to coax new sounds out of impromptu homemade instruments – metal bed frames, kitty litter, crumpling foil, containers of water and whatever else was around. Together they hacked through tangles of psychic resistance and dredged toxic marshes for sunken personal horrors. One by one, using fresh alchemy invented on the cuff, they opened old wounds and from them extracted Mater Dolorosa’s 10 eerie pearls. The path they carved together led through a twisted maze, the obstacles so frequently daunting that the project took years. During that time CrowJane helped bring Egrets on Ergot local acclaim, became “Sally” and “Nurse Heather” in the twisted cabaret of The Deadbeats and, most recently, the unhinged front woman of quizzical LA sonic terrorists, Prissy Whip, whose Swallow LP Roessler also recorded and mixed.
Using music and a deepening connection to life’s unseen component CrowJane has spent the last several years building and rebuilding better versions of herself from the ash of shed skins. The 10 songs on Mater Dolorosa almost perfectly mirror and chronicle this long ascent towards wholeness.
Coming from a visual art background of surrealism and horror, she has simultaneously built a career as a professional horror effects makeup artist. This unlikely background helped foster an outsider musical sensibility that is perfectly balanced by an encyclopedic knowledge of the byways and back roads of punk and death rock, both historic and in LA’s contemporary underground music scene, of which her bands have been an integral component for the past 10 years. As a part of these utterly distinct and uncompromising bands she has developed a reputation for shattering expectations, both in her choice of collaborators and her contributions to the collaboration. Although this pedigree informs the haunting tracks on this solo debut, those familiar with her explosive and provocative live performances will likely be blindsided by the soft vulnerability and nakedness of Mater Dolorosa, the arrangements of which allow her no place to hide and nothing left to do but forgive the past.