A Child's Bestiary

by Valentine Wolfe



A Child's Bestiary: Nine tracks of macabre oddities from the imagination, an exploration of a grotesque menagerie, lurking under the guise of a child's innocent rhymes.

Enter the Bestiary with A Taxidermist's Toybox, a track inspired by surreal horror of the television show Hannibal. My Black Hen is a witches scene, our very own version of a Hexensabbat. Wynken Blynken and Nod are here, the beautiful lullaby taking on a tragic and ghostly interpretation, inspired by post-mortem photography. Then Alfred, Lord Tennyson provides the lyrics for our next creature, the mythical Kraken.

Corvidae is a sinister nursery rhyme that inspired the entire creation of this imaginary exhibition. We then return to previous inspiration with Silent Siren, a Hans Christen Andersen tale, familiar to most of you, but much more aligned with the source material. And what would our bestiary be without fairies, especially one that some say enables perception of all these wonders? La Fée Verte, or The Green Fairy, appears with promises of exotic dreams and visions…

The next tale, Peter the Wolf, features a young boy named Peter, his grandfather, and his own animal nature lurking beneath the surface.

And our final beast is the Ouroboros, circling around itself and bringing our collection of songs to a close, with some words from our favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe.


released August 26, 2016

Sarah Black: vocals and electronics
Braxton Ballew, bass and electronics


all rights reserved



Valentine Wolfe Greenville, South Carolina

Two morbidly fascinated musicians combining ambient solo bass, brutal distortion, electronica, and 18th century opera to tell a story of the macabre.

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Track Name: A Taxidermist's Toybox
A Taxidermist’s Toybox

Cleaning off the skin
Scraping off the chaff
Got to keep the cuts small
Make the feathers last
Jiggle in an eye
Paint on the claws
Arrange a pose
And then it’s done
Beauty in this death

Jackdaw, magpie, rook, crow
Say them all and then you’ll know
What’s the secret?
Never tell
Bad little ones under my spell

Receive the little birds
In spirits of wine
Got to sew the beak shut
With a bit of twine
Then untie the skin
Head turns toward the left
Twist ligament
This is my design
Beauty in this death

What life has gotten wrong
I can now correct
My own interpretation
My revisions to the script
When a mind is fertile
Ready for suggestion
What to say
How to move
Beauty in this death

Creating works of art
Making something new
From a lifeless dead thing
Giving a new hue
I work my magic only
With one goal in mind
To breathe new life
To start afresh
Beauty in this death
Track Name: My Black Hen
My Black Hen

Hickety, pickety, my black hen,
She lays eggs for gentlemen;
Gentlemen come every day
To see what my black hen doth lay.

My black hen gives me
Such black feathers
Each one tied in a knot
Each a rung on the ladder

The blackest curse
Turns the soul
In a witch’s ladder
With thirteen rungs

With cord magick
And a cross of black pins
Check for it under the bed

The gentlemen come
They can’t stay away
Though the danger beckons
They follow its clarion call

Gentlemen should harbor
Some caution
Though they are tempted this way
Best to just stay away
Track Name: Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Ghost children
Playing in the dark
Ghost children
Living worlds apart

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afraid are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Ghost kisses
Catch them while you can
Ghost kisses
Never leave my hand

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Ghost wishes
One by one to make
Ghost wishes
Dreadful the mistake

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Ghost children
Playing in the dark
Ghost children
Living worlds apart
Track Name: Kraken
Kraken by Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height
And far away into the sickly light
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep
Then once by man and angels to be seen
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.
Track Name: Corvidae

Corvidae, come after me
Corvidae, I shall not flee

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird
You must not miss

One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a funeral
Four for birth
Five for heaven
Six for hell
Seven for the devil, his own self
Track Name: Silent Siren
Silent Siren

Dissolving into sea foam
She floats among the waves
The storm rolls on, the sea grows calm
Her memory fades away

The pain of slicing knives
Separates her flesh
The dance leads on, she hides her frown
Each step to please her prince

To a witch she sells her voice
Her siren, clarion call
All for the love of an unknown man
And half his worthless soul

Her first trip to the surface
She saves a drowning prince
He never knew of his protector
Never caught her name

There’s a moral to this tale
A lesson to be learned
Don’t trade your voice for anything
Own it, don’t silence your song
Track Name: La Fée Verte
La Fée Verte

I’m trapped in this bottle
Please set me free
Then I will be all yours
For this night
Your inspiration
Your darkling muse
Your Green Fairy
La Fée Verte

Drink, drink
With me tonight
Drink, drink
Deep with me tonight
Never has a poison
Tasted so sweet
Never has your nightmare
Spoken this way

La Fée Verte
They whisper my name
They long for my touch
Horrific visions I bring

La Fée Verte
One little sip
One little taste
Let me show you the way

La Fée Verte
The night comes alive
A swirling haze
Dancing with you

La Fée Verte
Do you long for your muse
Shall I visit you
Open your mind to my world
Track Name: Peter the Wolf
Peter the Wolf.

Once upon a time in Russia...

Peter awoke from the nightmare with the taste of blood still in his mouth. He could remember fleeting images: the silver moon hanging in the darkened sky, the pale light illuminating the forest with an unworldly glow, and thick summer air, hot and stifling around him.

Peter sat up, and the nightmare continued. As he looked around his cottage, he could remember the shrill sounds of screaming birds. Could birds scream? As his memories grew more vivid, Peter remembered them screaming.

He could remember drinking with his friend Utkin. Last night, he remembered a look of terror in his eyes, and his mouth contorting into another silent scream. Odd that he remembered Utkin’s screaming silently, but not the birds.

He idly tried to remember where Utkin went after he started screaming…

As he looked around the cottage, with debris and destruction littering the small room, he tried to banish the images of sheer terror returning to the edge of consciousness, like a recalled echo, telling himself that he and Utkin must have drank enough for their ancestors last night.

Peter got out of bed, and the nightmare continued. He remembered the tiger.

The great siberian tiger slunk out of the forests, and towards the cottage where Peter lived alone with his grandfather. Grandfather was a mighty hunter. Peter remembered not understanding why Grandfather didn’t lift his heavy rifle from above the mantle and come for the mighty cat as he had so many times before.

Peter noticed the rifle wasn’t above the mantle. Nor did he see grandfather in the ransacked cottage. Grandfather’s bed was unmade, his boots gone, his chair empty.

Peter remembered the heat of the tiger’s breath. Peter remembered the sharp claws going for his throat. Peter remembered swatting them away as playful as a kitten, laughing at the tiger’s frantic attacks and roars as if it were a game.

Peter remembered snapping the tiger’s spine, and wondering why the tiger was so delicate.

It was then Peter remembered the taste of blood in his mouth. He wondered how it got there.

He padded to the door of the cottage and opened the gate, shaking the rest of his sleep away from his eyes. In the light of dawn, he saw what was left of Grandfather and Utkin, their blood and bodies staining the grass, torn into shreds by the predator.

Peter found his friend and his Grandfather, and the nightmare went on and on and on…
Track Name: Ouroboros

Darkness is beautiful
When you can see the spark
Of a tiny, little light
Dancing through the shadows

Darkness is terrible
When the light seems far away
Much too far away to reach
Midnight is closing in

Fear will choke down our resolve
Like a serpent maw grown wide
Her tail inching ever near
We’re consuming our own fears

Surrendering our days of bliss
Precious moments in the sun
One life, one chance to live
That’s all we ever have

“And by strange alchemy of brain
Our pleasures always turn to pain
Being young and dipped in folly
We fall in love with melancholy.” (E.A.Poe)

We are the snake
We are the serpent
We are eating our own tail
And the circle grows ever smaller
And the noose grows ever tighter
We are slowly choking on our own fear

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