To steal unapologetically from Steinbeck: Slim Bone Head Volt is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Slim Bone Head Volt is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps of an actor’s brain and a musician’s hands. Its inhabitant are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Vincent D’Onofrio. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holymen,” and he would have meant Dana Lyn.
The duo was born when, during rehearsals for an off-Broadway play in which both D’Onofrio and Lyn were cast members, the actor invited his innermost thoughts into the unsuspecting minds of his contemporaries via that modern day messiah of connection: the text message. The transmissions were long, rambling, and raucous, and Lyn, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and composer, fell in love with them. In direct contradiction to the thumb-guided medium’s impermanence, she sought to give the messages new life by pairing them with her own original music and encouraged D’Onofrio to share more.
The actor, trapped in the physical shape of Mr. D’Onofrio, flings his synapses onto the tiny external brain he carries around in his pocket. He does not edit—he cannot edit, for when do you consciously amend your dreams? You do not, and he does not, for this is honesty, and truth, and beauty, and it is all quite fucked up. These are the inner workings of a man gone mad with his own majesty, and they are as profound as they are pathetic and heroic in their humility.
A brief thumbing through the journal’s virtual pages reveals tales of fragile ballerinas and imaginary friends, presidential aspirations and warring hands, heartfelt tending to pigs with nihilistic names, silent birds and hamsters with shoulder chips, fury and futility and the super-golden long-flowing hair of aspiration, ego, and of becoming Blanche DuBois. Like Tennessee Williams’ iconic Southern Belle, Mr. D’Onofrio is infinitely dependent on the kindness of strangers, and were he whisked away tomorrow to his divine rewards in the asylum it wouldn’t be soon enough.
The musician, given life by Ms. Lyn, has undertaken the challenge of holding up the instrumental mirror to the actor’s vague maelstrom of nature. Half of the music was through-composed, the other half improvised with direction based on D’Onofrio’s words. Thereby, the sound becomes just as instinctual for Lyn and her players as the delivery is for D’Onofrio. Despite having not seen any of the music before the recording, the assembled cast knocked out an entire album in two five-hour sessions. The resulting product, titled Slim Bone Head Volt, was released in March of 2015.
So, how can we expect to comprehend all this madness? How, to tear a page from the man once again, can the poem and the stink and the grating noise—the quality of light, the tone, the habit and the dream—be set down alive? Perhaps to comprehend Slim Bone Head Volt, the product of two maniacal minds who shall not, under any circumstance, be moved, you must simply open your own mind and let the stories crawl in by themselves.
released March 3, 2015
Text by Vincent D'Onofrio
Music by Dana Lyn except for track 12, by Vinnie Sperrazza
Produced by Dana Lyn
Mixed by Kyle Sanna
Mastered by Nate Wood
Recorded at Godelstring Studio
All vocals performed by Vincent D'Onofrio
Dana Lyn: violin, viola, piano, iPod
Mike McGinnis: clarinet, tenor saxophone
Briggan Krauss: alto and baritone saxophones
Kyle Sanna: acoustic and electric guitar
Geoff Kraly: bass
Vinnie Sperrazza: drums
Ben Holmes: trumpet
Clara Kennedy: cello