Winona is a woman without a past and a band with an infinite future.
Their short story started when Winona met master musicians Craig Armstrong and Scott Fraser with a view to creating glacial European pop music in 2006.
Memories of Winona's inception are inevitably hazy. There was a hotel bar up in the 12th arrondissement in Paris, an evening of considerable abandon in New York’s Metropolitan Club and an inspired saki session on a Shibuya side-street. Between cities and cigarettes, Winona became a reality.
The union of these two softly-spoken Scotsmen , one the most significant film composer of his generation, the other a hugely in-demand player and programmer and this curious creature of the night was unlikely to say the least, but the music they began to produce was immediate, mysterious and mesmeric.
Armstrong and Fraser dusted off their eye-watering collection of vintage synthesizers and set about making widescreen, minor-key masterpieces while Winona sifted through notes and Polaroids detailing a lifetime of adventure in the playgrounds of the privileged and the urban wastelands of the dispossessed.
They would convene every Friday afternoon in an airy recording studio in Glasgow. Sometimes Winona wouldn’t show up but the muse always would. Within months, an album of beautifully bruised and unashamedly confused songs emerged. Themes of fear, self-doubt, denial, surveillance, elation, unconditional love and unquestioning devotion emerged. Flawed but defiantly fantastic, Winona came to life.
Having met French actress Laurence Ashley on the set of Luc Besson’s ‘Kiss Of The Dragon’, Armstrong asked whether she would like to contribute to the project. Her sensual spoken-word interludes, melting into the honey-through-velvet voice of singer Lucy Pullin, seamlessly sealed the Winona sound.
Listening to this wondrous music now, you are reminded of Kraftwerk’s autobahn soundscapes, the endless sadness of Gustav Mahler, Brian Eno’s ambient innovations and those French film soundtracks you could never quite pronounce. You may also discern the undeniable pop of the Eurythmics, Berlin-period Bowie and a dark smudge of Massive Attack at their most majestic.
But Winona may also bring to mind the heart-stopping radiance of Julie Christie in 1973, the crisp lines of Hedi Slimane, the empowering photographs of Helmut Newton, a sleek Audi at sunrise, the beguiling chaos of Fellini’s 8 1/2, the enduring genius of Delia Derbyshire, Charlotte Rampling’s cheekbones, Yukio Mishima’s poetry, a meditative morning coffee in the Campo Dei Fiori, a cool Autumn stroll through Kelvingrove Park, the stillness of Edward Hopper and Raymond Carver, the scent of jasmine on warm skin, the final frames of Death In Venice
Can we still use the word beautiful’?
Winona: she’ a piece of work; they’re a work of art.
(Written by Adrian Deevoy 2007)
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