Testimonium Songs is a riff on Charles Reznikoff’s amazing concept art/text thing from the early twentieth century: Testimony.
The book version of Testimony takes quotations from court transcripts of murders, domestic abuse, workplace injuries & amputations and it transmutes them into these wrenching fragments of poetry.
It’s pretty rough stuff, a lot of it. But there are also these super-intimate, if disturbing and violent scenes all throughout the book that are so hyper-vivid & minimalist at the same time that they actually end up being sort of beautiful.
To be clear Kinsella’s lyrics paraphrase Reznikoff, just like Reznikoff paraphrased the original transcripts.
At any rate, Tim Kinsella and related musicians took this stuff and turned it into a song and dance act. The shows on the tour that Joan of Arc will be doing for this album are supposed to incorporate this whole avante garde theater, ballet element, provided by the theater troupe Every House Has a Door. The video I’ve seen of this act involves, among other tableau, a guy falling flat on his back over and over again between two stools.
If you’d like to purchase a vinyl record version of this album, you can get it from our friends at Polyvinyl, right here. If you want a cassette version of the album pick it up at JNR right here.