Paul Fonfara and the Ipsifendus Orchestra – 7 Secrets of Snow press release
7 Secrets of Snow is the 4th record by songwriter, composer, multi‐instrumetalist Paul Fonfara. This album drifts from his previous songwriting ventures and ups the scale wih a fully fledged 12 piece Balkans styled Brass Band and Chamber Orchestra, playing a surreal cinematic score. 7 Secrets of Snow is the raucaus, yet delicate Pet Sounds of Spaghetti Western, Heroin Klezmer meeting with Psychedlia Shoegaze, Sci‐Fi, and Contempory 20th Century Minimalism.
Fonfara began his career in Denver playing Clarinet, Cello and Guitar with Devotchka, Woven Hand/16 Horsepower, and as accompanist to alt county stalward Jim White. He then later moved to Minneapolis to join local favorites The Spaghetti Western String Co., and the Brass Messengers. All the while he has recorded a number of albums leading his own band Painted Saints, also touring often as a soloist, and noted for his virtuosic whistling, clarinet and looping.
In September of 2013, Fonfara was touring in the UK opening for Jim White where he met with the film makers behind the BBC cult classic ‘Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus’. They were working on a new documentary following the famous/notorious Russian clown Slava Polunin as he makes a homeward trek through Siberia in the middle of Winter. Fonfara was asked to score the film, but they began to run into serious post production delays. In the meantime, Paul won a Minnesota Artists Initiative grant using the score’s sketches to record his own record, create his own films and illustrate the collection. The result was 7 Secrets of Snow owing it’s title to the original London based film and a Russian proverb. To realize the compositions, Paul assembled The Ipsifendus Collective , which takes it’s name from an Edward Gorey story. Ipsifendus is the sound a rather charming devil makes as it descends from the sky. The orchestra is made up of some of Minneapolis’ most prolific and notable composers/ film score players with Saw, Accordion, Cello, Clarinet, Cornet, Piano, Bass, Drums and Honk Festival favorites the Brass Messengers.
While the record’s inspiration began in composing for Siberian winterscapes, it soon took on its own life and each piece it’s own world. The Grass(DeGrasse) is Always Greener is a nod to physicst Neil Degrasse Tyson. Tar Sands, the lone vocal song, is a serene take on the desolate beauty of the waste that is the Alberta oil pits. Housitania comes from a short story written on the sinking of the Housitonic, the first vessel to be sunk by a submarine during the civil war. The record also includes a book of illustrations by Whittney Streeter, and the group performs with the accompanying films live.
The release of this record corresponds with a busy schedule as Fonfara will be touring solo supporting a West Coast tour with Cloud Cult, dates in the deep south with Jim White, opening for Romania’s legendary Fanfare Ciocarlia and headlining the Square Lake Film Festival.
"(Seven Secrets of Snow) has a serene, wonderstruck quality, owing largely to the clean, penetrating tone of Fonfara's woodwinds...far reaching and vivid' Brian Zimmerman, Downbeat
"Fonfara’s magnetic playing provided the evocative embellishment you didn’t realise a song could benefit from until you heard it. The occasional use of looping gave the (mostly) sad songs an otherworldly veneer." The Scotsman, Glasgow
"Fonfara's unique stylings could be heard as some gentle perversion of Americana into modern, individualistic song". Vijay Venkat, The Guardian London
"Paul Fonfara isn’t exactly new, more undiscovered, or even unappreciated, it’s a shame, he’s one of those musical givers, one of those that you digest and it leaves you full inside, a more complete, better person. Sure it’s not earth shattering or wildly original, it’s just better, like buying a car with leather seats or a better stereo. It’s not bigger, frillier, just good, rock done fully, satisfying, care for - understood, solid. In a disposable, flippant and irreverent world Paul, with or without the Painted Saints gifts us craftsmanship, a talent well-honed and god knows we’re crying out for skilled practitioners."
-Rudie Humphrey, Americana UK
Lead by multi-instrumentalist Paul Fonfara, a virtuoso clarinet player with a handle on just about any music-making device you can throw at him, Painted Saints are perhaps the most accomplished local band you've never heard of. A transplant from an incestuous Denver music scene, Fonfara possesses a technical prowess that has been on international display for years. He is a former member of Devotchka, 16 Horsepower Woven Hand and touring sideman to Jim White, along with local favorites Spaghetti Western String Co., and the Brass Messengers, but it's his songwriting and orchestral creativity that get the limelight with Painted Saints. Live, Fonfara layers guitar, clarinet, an archaic Argentinian squeezebox, and whistles that would make Andrew Bird blush, resulting in a spaghetti western, heroin klezmer, experimental gutter blues, shoegaze chamber folk, psychadelic motown dirge. Also a talented painter, Fonfara pens lyrics that detail the kind of dark and vivid imagery one could imagine Hieronymus Bosch creating, were he raised in modern-day rural America.