Friend in the Dark

by Sassafrass: Trickster & King

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    Pre-order of Friend in the Dark. You get 8 tracks now (streaming via the free Bandcamp app and also available as a high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more), plus the complete album the moment it’s released.
    releases July 1, 2016

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A Digital Pre-Order means you get music now and more music later. If you buy it (or get it from the Kickstarter), you will instantly receive all the finished tracks. Later, when the final tracks are added, you will receive an e-mail inviting you to download the completed album for free.

This is the first album by Ada Palmer and Lauren Schiller, working together as the duo "Sassafrass: Trickster and King."

These new recordings include many of Ada Palmer's earlier fantastic and improvisational pieces, which have been out of print while we concentrated on the Sundown project. Other recordings showcase variations on our Viking mythology pieces, experimenting with variant harmonies, improvisation and instrumentation, as well as some of the duet adaptations which Ada and Lauren have created for their duo performances. More recordings are still underway, and the album will be released when it contains more than 60 minutes of polished music.

Special features include recordings of "Hearthfire" and "Somebody Will" with guitar performances by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and the cannon "Winds over Leviathas", a song from the world of the Enepet Folksongs, which has never appeared on one of our albums before.

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releases July 1, 2016

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Sassafrass Chicago, Illinois

Sassafrass performs Ada Palmer's original a cappella polyphonic folk music, complex pieces with lively narratives and fantasy, mythology or science fiction themes.

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Track Name: Winds Over Levathas
Whispering stories, and whistling stories, and
Promises of prophecies of things now already begun.
The god of the battle, the god of the glory,
The god of the slaughter, the death of the god.
And would you the battle? And would you the glory?
And would you partake in the death of the--
Warriors breeding the children of angels of old,
Breeding the heroes Aururia foretold.
The god of the battle, the god of the glory,
The god of the slaughter, the death of the god.
And would you the battle? And would you the glory?
And would you partake in the death of the--
Warriors breeding the children of angels of old,
Breeding the killers Aururia foretold.
The god of the battle, the god of the glory,
The god of the slaughter, the death of the god.
And would you the battle? And would you the glory?
And would you partake in the death of the--
Whispering stories, and whistling stories, and
Promises of prophecies of things now already begun.
Track Name: Where I Come From
Wherever I walked, wherever I wandered
with a pilgrim’s staff in my hand,
wherever I strayed into the shallows
barely deeper than the sand,
whatever I saw, whatever I touched
before my footprints faded away,
whatever I struggle to remember,
it’s always gray

Gray as the clouds rolling down the
long dark banks of sky
gray as the ebbing river
and the riverbed growing dry
gray as the hills, gray as the shadows
gray as the coating of dust
on branches, grasses, faces
and tired eyes

There is the smoke, there is the candle
in the window burning bright
there is the cabin on the shore
where all the pilgrims stay the night
there is the hearth, there are the stories
traded back and forth like toys
there is the solitary boy, who says:
Where I come from
the river runs down and the river runs deep
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs clear and the river runs sweet
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs blue and the river runs bright,
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs dark and the river runs wide,
and the river runs over and over.

How could I come on such a story
with a pilgrim’s blood in my veins?
How and not hear the river calling
by a thousand secret names?
But how could I ask him, how could I
make another share his road with me?
How could I answer when he called,
hey, friend, come with me.

I would have followed along
the darkest paths of night.
I would have forded oceans
with the far shore out of sight.
But what do we see, what do we follow?
Only the banks of the same old
river winding gray.
Then there it was
where the river runs down and the river runs deep
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs clear and the river runs sweet
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs blue and the river runs bright,
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs dark and the river runs wide,
and the river runs over and over.

Whether I wish I could leave
the tired world behind,
Whether I want to dream
among the rivers in my mind,
Even if here, even if happy
even together we do as
every pilgrim wants to do
and wander on
There are the hills, there are the golden
grasses finally gone to seed
There are the shadows on the snow
where shades of violet seem to bleed
there is the thaw, there is the trickle
starting slower than the sun,
there is the cabin where I answer now:
Where I come from,
the river runs down and the river runs deep
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs clear and the river runs sweet
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs blue and the river runs bright,
and the river runs over and over,
and the river runs dark, dark and
over and over and
over and over and
over and over again,
over and over.
Track Name: Hearthfire (five parts with guitar)
Winter, with storm on the way,
(Winter storm,)
When a stranger charged up to my gate, calling
(Stranger come,)
“Shelter! The light’s nearly done
(Shelter, light,)
And the wiser man hides when the Thunderer comes!”
(Night comes.)
And I offered him food as I brought him inside,
(Fine food, fine mead,)
And I bade my son empty the seat beside mine,
(Fine men, fine seat,)
But the stranger frowned softly, and answered, “Good host,
(Fine guest, fine host,)
With the blizzard so clear we had better sit close by the
(Blizzard come close!)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire.
Peace fire, feast fire, play.
Here, fire, now, fire, make the night ours, fire,
Bright in your circle of stories and stone.

Feast done, the time came for riddles, my
(Feast done now.)
Bright son sat down in the middle, cried,
(My sundown.)
“Ask me, I’ll answer you, stranger, true
(Ask me how)
Anything a leader of our people should know.”
(I know.)
And he counted the runes, and he spelled out the days
(Know runes, know days,)
And recited the list of the Allfather’s names
(Know list, know names,)
But our guest looked to me when the final round came.
(Guest knows my ways.)
“Do you know, son, how man learned to capture and tame
(No man can tame)

The Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire?
Guest fire, test fire, game.
Pet fire, man fire, play while you can, fire.
Prison is coming of cunning and stone.

And I answered at once what my
(And an-)
Parents had taught me in childhood days:
(-swer child,)
“The Allfather, when his creation was young,
(Father)
Came in traveler’s guise to teach humans his ways.
(Travel.)
And he taught us to stand, and he taught us to speak,
(Taught stand, taught speak)
And he taught how the noble should master the weak,
(Taught how make weak,)
And the fires of Musphel he snatched from the giants
(Fire snatcher,)
And used them to banish the Jotun defiance,
(User, captor.)
And fashioned the sun and the moon and the stars,
(Fast sun, moon, stars,)
And he taught us to make just a little bit ours:
(Taught make all ours,)

The Hearthfire, Hearthfire, friend in the dark, fire.
Hate, fire, wait, fire, home.
Need fire, bleed fire, hear as I plead, fire.
Stay in your prison of caution and stone.”

But he sighed as he asked, “Are you
(Sighed)
Sure the defiance is gone as you boast?”
(Sure gone)
And quick as a spell now I heard in the coal crackle
(Quick heard)
Words that had always been whispering close:
(Words whisper:)

(“Little one, my little one, lick free through the timbers
And feast on the children of jailkeeper Man.
Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;
Recapture that birthright whenever you can.”)

“Hearthfire, Hearthfire,
(Little one, my little one,)
Friend in the dark, fire.
(Lick free through the timbers)
Hate, fire, wait, fire, home
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper man.)
Need fire, bleed fire, hear as I plead, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Stay in your prison of caution and stone.”
(Recapture that birthright whenever you can.)

Shock passed. The words wiped away
(Shock let see)
The illusion my sorrow had made,
(Illusion need.)
And I faced now the ashes and bone
(Face now ash,)
That were all that the fire had left of my home.
(All gone.)
For no roof stood above us, and I was no host,
(Roof gone, feast gone,)
And the son at my side was mere memory’s ghost.
(Son gone, peace gone,)
And the stranger who huddled where the embers glowed dim
(Home gone, world gone,)
Said, “Son, you’re not first to lose castle and kin to the
(Fire burn on!)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire,
(Little one, my little one,)
Friend in the dark, fire.
(Lick free through the timbers)
Cruel fire, tool fire, crime.
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper gods.)
Campfire, war fire, rage for me more, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Sealed in your prison of serpents & stone.”
(You carry that right as I wait in my bonds.)

And the ashes were washed from my eyes
(And ask)
And I saw what had always been plain:
(Stranger)
The Allfather standing before me, and by him
(Riddle)
His Bloodbrother’s spirit awake in the flame.
(Answer.)
And I fell to my knees, and I cried to him, “Father
(Men know, beasts know,)
I can’t understand why you let him live on!
(Stones know, seas know,)
For he murdered my son, and he murdered yours too,
(Suns know, skies know,)
And no force can extinguish this evil but you!”
(You know, I know. You)
But he beckoned me close as the blizzard arrived:
(Remember my gift as the blizzard arrives:)
“If you live through this night you will only survive thanks to

Hearthfire, Hearthfire
(Little one, my little one, lick)
Mother & murderer,
(Free through the timbers)
Hearthfire, Hearthfire, traitor and nurturer
(And feast on the children of jailkeeper gods.)
Kin fire, foe fire, evil I know, fire,
(Your parent roamed free burning forests to embers;)
Warding me still against evils I don't.
(You carry that spite as I rage in my bonds.)

Hearthfire, Hearthfire, desperate art, fire,
(Little one, my little one, lick free through the timbers)
Price that the living must pay.
(And feast on the children of Aesir and men!)
Guard my creation a little bit more, fire,
(Your parent roamed free ’til my brother betrayed me;)
Stay in your prison ’til
(You'll rise to that birthright when)
Everything crumbles and everything ends!
(Fire takes everything! Everything ends!)