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The Butterfly Ate The Pearl is the fifth album from England’s “Pantaleimon” aka Andria Degens, a somewhat idiosyncratic, self-taught, intuitive multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter; the new album features nine new original tracks including the download video singles “If I (Was)” and “Ember.” The Butterfly Ate The Pearl was written and recorded during 2011/12 in her home studio, and co-produced with Hugo Race (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds/Fatalists) and is being released by Grass Girl Music, distributed by Forced Exposure in the United States.
The Butterfly Ate The Pearl is a more psychedelic offering than Pantaleimon’s previous recordings, a marked artistic progression, and her most accomplished work to date. Besides writing and recording the new material Degens performs on a diverse range of instruments including guitar, keyboard, Indian harmonium, “treated” Appalachian dulcimers, bass, pedal board, vibraphone, bells, tambourine and sansula; she also provides samples, loops, and assorted fx. In addition, she’s brought together an eclectic array of renowned musicians to complement her work and insure that each track reaches its full potential: Hugo Race (Bad Seeds), “Bonnie Prince Billy” Will Oldham, James Blackshaw, Otto Hauser (Vetiver, Espers), Jay Darlington (Oasis, Kula Shaker), and Steve Finnerty (Alabama 3), to name but a few. The end result is a cinematic soundscape showcasing her gorgeous, heartbreaking vocals.
Andria Degens was born in England. Her parents moved around frequently (her father was a navigational engineer), but she found a measure of stability in music and books from an early age: she’d spend hours a day listening to her mother’s record collection and playing with a Casio keyboard and nylon string guitar. She was also a bookworm, often disappearing into another world for long periods of time.
During her early twenties, Degens sold everything and took to the road, traveling two and half years through South East Asia. Following some very deep spiritual experiences Degens began to play music with a new sense of purpose. When she arrived back in England, she started making experimental recordings, and in time adopted the name “Pantaleimon.” The name “Pantaleimon” was inspired by Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy. The name means “all merciful.”
Her work drew from a diverse range of influences such as Brian Eno, Can, Neu, Mississippi Fred McDowall, Eden Ahbez, Djivan Gasparyan, Kate Bush, Nico, David Bowie, Soundgarden, Vedic Chanting, and Mozart as well as authors like Orson Scott Card, Wilhelm Reich, Peter Reich, Jostein Gaarder, C.S. Lewis, Erik Linklater, Dick Gregory, Joseph Massey, Rabindranath Tagore, Paramahansa Prajnananda and Paramahansa Yogananda.
Degens wrote and recorded some minimal instrumentals for Appalachian dulcimer and bouzouki which came to the attention of Christoph Heemann, who invited her to record properly at his studio in Germany; this became her first album, Trees Hold Time. This strange, otherworldly record was very well received upon its release in 1999 with Antony of Antony and the Johnsons saying, “I love Trees Hold Time. Andria has a lovely pure voice and her spirit is evident in her work. What a soulful collection!” Since then, her growth as an artist as well as spiritually has been ongoing, reaching a new high point on The Butterfly Ate The Pearl.
Along the way, Pantaleimon has been honored to share stages with a host of amazing artists including Six Organs of Admittance, 16 Horsepower, Lightning Bolt, Bonnie Prince Billy, Antony & the Johnsons, and James Blackshaw among others.
Before releasing her first work as Pantaleimon, Degens appeared on The Dirty Three’s Horse Stories, singing on the title track with Warren Ellis, and in 1992 she played guitar as part of the “Wall Of Noise” show hosted by the band Wire at the Clapham Grand. More recently, she collaborated with Strings of Consciousness and Lüüp on their latest releases From Beyond Love and Meadow Rituals respectively. She has worked closely with L.A. based film director Cam Archer over a number of years, providing narration for a series of his short films, and her music appeared on the soundtrack to his critically acclaimed feature film Wild Tigers I Have Known. In 2013, Degens worked with American animator Eric Leiser on her video singles “If I (Was)” and “Ember.”