press for The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost
Kim Kelly of Vice Magazine, "...A Stick and A Stone's true power lies in its restraint; the tension between the notes, the tonal colors of [Miskovicz]'s voice, Donovan's frenetic strings—each is a small force on its own, but together, the album's moving parts coalesce into a truly dynamic, enigmatic masterwork. [Miskovicz], who is a transgender male, is possessed of a decidedly androgynous vocal range that complements the highs and lows of The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost, cooing sweetly and calling down the moon while exorcising the demons who run rampant in his lyrics. The star-crossed 'Spider Bite' is a personal favorite; forceful percussion and Donovan's sharpened strings cut through the fog while its dancing singsong harmonies recall an older, wilder world, where witchery and danger lurked beyond every corner. Elsewhere, [Miskovicz] manipulates metaphors and digs deep into themes of alienation, mental illness, and nature worship in lyrics that read like poetry. On face value alone, this is atmospheric, minimalist, exploratory doom at its peak, and once its emotional depth is taken into account, we're left with an inarguably essential release."
The Obelisk: "Post-doom outfit A Stick And A Stone will issue The Lost Art of Getting Lost on 7/21 via LP by Sentient Ruin (US) and Cold Recordings (Italy), cassette by Breathe Plastic (Netherlands), and CD by Spirit House (US). If you’re wondering what might cause so many different labels to line up behind pushing this release into the public sphere, consider yourself cordially invited to dig into the richly atmospheric and creative approach on display throughout the record’s seven tracks. Orchestral and emotionally affecting, it is dark and gorgeous and spacious and sad and all that stuff that reminds you that genre lines are made essentially to be transgressed."
Andrew Rothmund of Invisible Oranges: "Perhaps there’s resonance to be found in the calm acceptance of suffering as irrevocable from life’s fabric; maybe restfulness and reflection are keys to awareness and mindfulness. That’s to say: it’s the vocal beacon which will cut through the fog. Cue A Stick And A Stone and their upcoming full-length, The Long Lost Art Of Getting Lost. A Stick And A Stone has trimmed doom metal’s musical fat to expose the bare emotions underneath; specifically, those driven primarily through vocalist Elliott Miskovicz’s show-stopping and heartfelt performance. The floorspace so opened for Miskovicz’s pipes sees them flexed deeply and passionately across persistent, impressive range. Miskovicz creates pure, solemn doom ambiance on wavering ribbons of intensities. The album's vocal-driven climaxes rise and fall gently, and A Stick And A Stone clearly spent significant time detailing over the quietest moments. They teach us that doom is also about silence, and pause. As an entirely introspective album, The Long Lost Art Of Getting Lost feels entirely personal, like a journey taken solo — perhaps the strongest indicator of the album’s resolute emotional value."
Invisible Orange's "For The Adventurous" column: "Imagine a Venn diagram where Chelsea Wolfe, Jarboe, and Subrosa overlap, and that’s a pretty good starting point for doom-folk project A Stick and a Stone. Elliott Miskovicz has a haunting, emotive voice whether he’s whispering or screaming, and the minimalist musical accompaniment gives the whole record an otherworldly feel. The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost is a gorgeous, moving album that proves it’s possible to make heavy music without cranking up the distortion."
Sean Reveron of CVLT Nation:
"...Visionary abstract doom project A Stick And A Stone's new trance-inducing and dream-evoking opus explores new tumultuous terrain while retaining the signature elements of ethereal harmonies, haunting vocals, and potent lyricism equated with Elliott Miskovicz’s previous work. The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost dives into the shadows of this age, upholding the power of resilience amidst times of uncertainty.
Miskovicz a transgender male with a distinctive vocal range, is no stranger to carving his way through uncharted territory as a musician. A Stick and a Stone‘s unusual style arises from blending paradoxical essences; on this album, gritty bass merges with elegant strings, rugged howls are echoed by graceful whispers, heavy drums are laced with ghostly soundscapes – to materialize in the end an unquestionable modern doom masterpiece of our times.
We're honored to bring you into this sonic shadow world Miskovicz has conceived. With deep and touching lyrical content channeling themes of mental illness and disembodiment, A Stick and a Stone weaves together sludge-doom, post-rock, minimal folk, and avantgarde to conjure atmospheres of unparalleled beauty, darkness, and intensity!"
Cody Davis of Metal Injection: "One of the most wonderful things about doom metal is, without a doubt, its versatility. For example, it can be brutish and deadly, creating a menacing frenzy. It can also siphon some of the most heartrending emotion one could feel. For A Stick and A Stone, doom takes the shape of minimalist classical instrumentation woven with a sludge-fueled tone and post-rock atmosphere that resembles bands like Om. Elliott Miskovicz's androgynous voice is wildly unique and adds a transcendent quality to the music. A Stick and A Stone untethers from normal metal qualities. Instead, they achieve their intensity through intricate and almost contradictory arrangements and evocative lyrics."
Lettere D'all Underground (translated from Italian): "...I believe that the particular and sophisticated sound of this band feeds on the particular terrain of someone who has changed genders and who looks at the world from a unique perspective. The voice and mind of this project responds to the name of Elliott Miskovicz and his voice is held in a unique and very interesting timbre. How interesting are the instrumental choices that give a unique charisma to the music. This is a very elegant, well-maintained, very pleasant listen where solitude acquires velvety tones.
Surely the band tends to embrace the darker world that translates into sounds that have something of doom, something of avant-garde metal and a good propensity to build dark, but beautiful, musical landscapes using the impulses of dark ambient. There is something very intimate, very much felt in this album. There is no need to scream what you hear, just give the strength of poetry and imagery to make the message
This is an album for solitary souls who are not at war with the world because they have understood that they can build their own world, made of everything that the majority of people refuse. There is also a kind of anti-conformity in this record.
More than ever, the climb and decent of rhythmic bass and low drums make a perfect glue for everything else. Miskovicz's unique voice and the targeted interventions of the strings intertwine with the intention of building something unique. And they
There is something wandering in the music of A Stick and a Stone, something that universalizes, and almost divinizes, their music. What they do does not deserve to be compared to things already heard. One thing that called my attention is that they mention among their influences Lhasa de Sela, amazing multicultural musician who died prematurely. Here, that universal nostalgia in the music of Lhasa is the same that can be heard and weighed in The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost. It is something that must be felt, that insinuates itself to the heart, because it is not something reasoned. This album is a mirror in which only a few people will see their
The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost is the perfect example of what it means to build a world apart from the conventional one. It is not just about the characteristics of the band leader, or the themes that are sung; it is a way of looking at the world with other eyes, with the particularity of wanting to express something that is above any conventionalism, fashion, or current. This is one of those records that will have no age, that will continue on, always good. A Stick And A Stone teaches us to lose ourselves, and today, that is perhaps the best thing that can happen."
Brian Krasman of MeatMeadMetal: "We’re navigating through some rough times. How one stands up to face the tumult is a sign of one’s strength and character, and “The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost” tackles some of that territory. While many bands confront these forces with equal amounts of chaos and destruction as what’s pushed upon them, this band does the opposite. Immersing yourself in these songs could help you branch beyond, at least psychologically, and find the tools to overcome. The band uses ambiance, doom, goth-rich melodies, and even some sludgy power. Harvey has a voice that confounds and arrests... rich, haunting, arresting, and perfectly suited for this moving material that can grasp the heart and soul. Finding true comparisons for this band’s sound is nearly impossible, but think an amalgamation of various elements from SubRosa, Chelsea Wolfe, Kate Bush, Amber Asylum, and My Brightest Diamond’s edgier moments, and you at least have a starting point.
A Stick and a Stone remains one of the most unusual, yet musically rewarding bands floating at the outer edges of metal’s ever-changing sea, and “The Long Lost Art of Getting Lost” is a record that you won’t soon forget. The music is moving and gripping, while the songs build emotion and, hopefully, psychological strength to help face whatever bullshit spews out of our world at any given moment. This isn’t the heaviest record you’ll hear this year from a decibel standpoint, but it might be on a psychological level."
Valley of Steel "...Harvey's vocals — vulnerable, expressive, and often forlorn — are somewhere in a range that’s partway between Nico and Thom Yorke. The album’s songs feel representative of a journey. The imagery and metaphoric language... feels universally relatable... The overall vibe is both mournful and peaceful, yet there’s still an underlying sense of tension just beneath the surface that’s always threatening to emerge. While most of the songs start out relatively calm and ethereal, most also grow more intense and emotive, composed in such a way as to exemplify a transformative process in the sound. All of these occasional shifts in mood and tone come across like portrayals of having battled inner turmoil, and having come out tentatively victorious, although that anxiety is always still lingering somewhere nearby."
press for Night Vision
Elliott Harvey births a new album from a Night Vision - by Naila Francis
Elliott Harvey always felt a visual connection to music, the lyrics and melodies, speaking to him beyond an aural resonance. So when he awoke one morning last August, his mind still thick with dreams where music had been a palpable presence, inspiration struck.
He had been in the process of writing and recording songs for his sophomore album, “Night Vision,” under his musical moniker A Stick and A Stone, when he saw just how he would celebrate its release. “In the dream, music wasn’t an invisible thing. It was a three-dimensional being, this thing that could move around,” says Harvey, who decided then to invite artists he knew to create a visual piece corresponding to a song of their choosing from the album.
A Stick and A Stone will showcase the resulting multimedia collaboration, featuring music, visual art and performance, on Sunday at the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art. The project intrigued every artist he approached, some of whom he’d collaborated with before but many who were entering his dense and ethereal forays for the first time.
“There’s a warm, searching quality to his music that I like,” says Annie Mok, a comic book artist and illustrator whose screen print using silver ink on black paper imagines figures walking upside down and backward in response to the song “Consumed by Jupiter.”
Mok was especially drawn to the supernatural in Harvey’s work, as several of the songs on “Night Vision” explore encounters in the unseen world.
“Elliott talked about the disembodied feeling he gets when he sings. I feel like he’s channeling spirits, and I’ve always loved things that evoke ghosts,” says Mok, editor of the 2009 anthology “Ghost Comics.” “I was moved by the haunting tone of his music and excited by the idea of things that sound secret.”
The music of A Stick and A Stone, which teems and teases with elements of punk and chamber folk, metal and baroque, ambient and rock, is often deeply emotive and intensely personal.
Harvey wrote most of the songs while grappling with issues of body image. At 25, his fresh-faced youthfulness often gets him mistaken for a teenager, or an androgynous female. But while he could have taken testosterone hormones to help him appear more masculine-looking, he ultimately decided against them to preserve his voice.
The lyrical themes of “Night Vision” emerged from his healing from the ways his physical body doesn’t represent his internal gender, and how this has influenced the development of his intuition and several out-of-body experiences.
For Ruby L.L. Voyager, a trans drag queen, Harvey’s ability to see gender beyond the physical body feels especially relevant. Voyager will deliver a costume-based performance on Sunday in which she transforms from the grotesque to the beatific during the song “Vaccine.”
“On the surface, the lyrics might seem simple ... but it’s not just about gender dysphoria,” she says. “It’s also about the ways we discover truth. Elliott transmutes anguish into power.”
While many of Harvey’s songs are meditations on the internal experience of gender, there is room for others to find pieces of their story in his music. Poet Shayna SheNess was drawn to the sense of longing, of a perpetual thirsting for something elusive, in the song “Oblivious Naomi.” She will be using glasses of water in her performance piece to ultimately immerse herself in what felt unattainable.
“As disembodied as the music feels, it allows you to embody it in any way you choose, and I wanted to play with that disappearance,” she says. “It’s really interesting to see how you can bring a piece to life. As a listener or a reader, you’re always going to have certain images that come up, so why not get that immediacy onstage?”
Music has always been Harvey's greatest therapy — a tattoo on his leg proclaims “music is medicine”. He says he has used music to get through many traumatic experiences.
Harvey was reared with song as a steady presence in his home. Raised in both the Jewish and Christian traditions, he sang in Hebrew at home on Friday nights and sang hymns and gospel in church on Sundays. He is not religious anymore, but people often say that his music sounds religiously influenced.
By 7, he was writing and performing his own songs — mostly for neighbors in his backyard — but he was 12 when he began taking song writing more seriously. He credits the Wednesday open-mic nights at the Glenside train station near North Philadelphia, which he began attending at 15, with helping him to develop his song writing and performing skills. While still in his teens, he performed all around Philadelphia with various groups, from a klezmer trio and Balkan a cappella choir to synth pop and punk rock outfits.
Though he started A Stick and A Stone as a solo project in 2007, he’s always gravitated toward collaboration, working with a rotating cast of musicians and artists across the country and in his West Philadelphia neighborhood. Corina Dross is one of them. The visual artist has created a work to capture both the undertones of aggression and intimacy in the song “Cricket Versus Scorpion” for Sunday’s showcase.
“What I’m most excited about with this show is destabilizing the idea of individual genius,” she says. “There’s a multilevel communal inspiration that is fertile ground that all of us draw on as individual artists, and this show really highlights that.”
For Harvey, the performance art showcase will be something like a live music video.
“With music videos becoming more popular again, it’s creating the phenomenon where music is becoming more visual for everyone,” he says. “This is a way to take it off the screen and make it more tangible on stage.”
A Stick and A Stone will hold a multimedia record release performance at the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art this Sunday at 7pm.
-- Naila Francis is a feature writer at Calkins Media.
press for Opal Nightly
Interview with Korrupt Yr Self Zine #5 - January 2010, by Erik Gamlem
"While in Philadelphia to celebrate the 10 year Anniversary of Exotic Fever Records, I was, once again, introduced to an unreal talent by my dear friend Katy Otto. Elliott Harvey's music is magical, mystical, and out of this world. Driving home I just felt compelled to find out more about his music and where it comes from.
KYS: What is your background in musical training or lessons and how do you apply that to your song writing?
Elliott: As a child I always wanted music lessons, but I was always told that they were too expensive. We had a toy keyboard in the house though, and I would spend hours tinkering with it, making stuff up. With lessons I would have been taught to mimic other people's compositions, but without them I learned to be more inventive instead.
KYS: I've gotta say, I'm shocked by that answer. Watching you play and sing I assumed you had some classical training. In terms of the instruments you use, I couldn't help but notice you played several different ones at the Heathen Salon show. Do you compose the songs on those instruments and stick with them, or do you switch things around as the song formulates?
Elliott: I usually write songs when I'm moving, whether walking, biking, or riding the train, so I don't usually have an instrument in hand to compose with. Usually I'll have an instrument or two in mind, and then when I get home I'll figure the parts out for them. Sometimes later I'll switch it up and use a different instrument for a song that used to use another.
KYS: The percussion tracks on your album Opal Nightly are pretty striking. I really like how they're used. They're more musical than typical percussion I hear and really accentuate the songs and offer nice contrast. Can you talk about how they came to be?
Elliott: We all knew that those songs needed percussion, and we had skeletons of ideas for the beats of them, but my old high school friend Dan Angel came and fleshed things out. I hadn't seen him in seven years, and it was a great reunion. He came to the studio with a school bus full of scrap metal, gongs, weird trinkets, and antique drums, and over several nights of collaboration, it came together.
KYS: In keeping with the album, a lot of the music on this record feels very theatrical and cinematic. You also make references to different characters in your songs, like "Elsie Norris" and Jason on "Medicine". Do you envision these characters? Is the music a soundtrack for their stories?
Elliott: Many of the characters are hybrids of fictional and non-fictional. Elsie for example is inspired by an old woman I used to live next door to as a child, as well as a character in a book I read. The more I play the songs, the more the characters evolve and solidify in my mind, with images and distinct personalities.
KYS: You had your record release in Philadelphia's Magic Garden. Did you shape the songs you played specifically for that venue?
Elliott: I chose the Magic Gardens because it is such an enchanting place and I felt that it would fit perfectly with the dance, puppet theater, film, and music of the event.
KYS: What comes next for A Stick and A Stone?
Elliott: I'm planning on doing a west coast tour in February with cellist Brenna Sahatjian. I'm also recording the next album soon!
Philadelphia Magic Garden, 7/26/10 - Opal Nightly Record Release Event
"Spend an enchanting evening in Philly’s Magic Garden when A Stick and A Stone celebrates the release of Opal Nightly in a truly beautiful setting. Their haunting otherworldly compositions and bend-but-never-break Sinead O’Connor-esque vocals on tracks like 'Medicine' and 'Mustard Seed' are breathtakingly captivating. Its moody melancholy is so simply and tastefully orchestrated, once again, stacking the argument of why Philly’s music scene is so diverse and interesting in our favor." ---Deli NYC
"A Stick and A Stone has been described as having elements of classical instrumentation, punk-infused chamber tones, and supernatural vocals. Teamed with multi-disciplinary performances of shadow puppetry, narrative dance, and a whimsical short film, this record release show is a Renaissance-meets-folk-meets-goth fusion.” ---Infinitely Curious
press from live shows and tours
First Unitarian Church with Kimya Dawson, 11/10/11
"Harvey is a small androgynous man with a thin frame, soft features, and a high voice that he used majestically in his largely a cappella opening number. As the song continued, it grew and morphed with the help of a looping foot pedal that Harvey used to double his voice upon itself, and with minimal accenting electric bass. I was spellbound, thinking that this rich, soaring piece would have been more at home in the church's grandiose sanctuary upstairs. When that song finished, Harvey moved to accompany himself with a banjo on a second tune. And then a lute. And then on guitar. And ultimately on a small keyboard that he balanced on his lap. While the quasi-religious experience of that experimental opener soon settled into a more standard singer/songwriter rhythm, Harvey's wordy lyrics and phenomenal voice control never let the short 25-minute performance be anything less than amazing."
---Sid Sowder, TooMuchRock
Gold Leaf on tour with SGNLS, 6/5/10
"On tour from Philadelphia with SGNLS, the two groups of musicians decided to do a combination performance. Using multiple instruments, Harvey created beautiful vocal and instrumental layers. He sang in a high register, with a soft tone that sounded almost lamentable at times. Each song told an intimate story."
Interview with New Haven Pride Center on tour with Adelaide Windsome, 2009
On October 15th, Dysphoric Cyborgs, a transgender duo featuring activists and artists Elliott Harvey and Adelaide Windsome, will be performing at United on the Green, in downtown New Haven, CT. The show was sponsored by New Haven Pride Center. This month's newsletter theme is "Facing your Fears".
NHPC: What kinds of fears did you have to overcome to embrace your trans identity? Have you overcome these fears?
E: Coming out to myself and others as male was scary. As a feminist I always tried to be proud of being a woman, and one of my fears was that accepting myself as male would make me a traitor to women. Eventually, I learned that I can support women's rights while still embracing who I am as male.
NHPC: Along those lines, how difficult was it for you to embrace your trans identity?
E: It was harder to discover myself as male than it was to embrace it. I have never been very masculine and have mostly been attracted to other men, so I didn't have a lot of the stereotypical cues to help me understand the strange dissonance I had with my body.
NHPC: How has this experience shaped your art and your live performances?
E: The biggest way being trans has shaped my music is my relationship with my voice. In my thoughts, my internal voice is a deep male voice, but when I sing I am a soprano. People often describe my voice as “haunting” and maybe that's because singing feels like a strange out-of-body experience for me, like my voice is coming from someone else. The reason why I don't take synthetic testosterone is that I don't want singing to become difficult by the effects of it stretching out the larynx.
NHPC: Are there any kinds of fears you have that Adelaide supports you with on tour?
E: Adelaide has helped me to believe that artistic projects are worthwhile, when I consistently fear that, with everything going wrong in the world, I should only be focusing on my activism. She helps me remember that music has transformative powers too.
----Thomas Donato lives in Hamden with his partner, is a board member of the New Haven Pride Center.