dis3 dis4

Jennifer Christensen—Cello

Myles Donovan—Viola, Harp, Machete

Ayla Holland—Acoustic Guitar, Bajo Quinto



Disemballerina’s core commiserated and lit their first floor candles in 2009 with a friendship sparked between guitarist Ayla Holland and violist/harpist Myles Donovan. Veterans of many louder bands over the years in the D.I.Y. Metal scene on both coasts, the two bonded over a shared love of chamber music, funereal doom and ritualistic ceremony as well as a mutual estrangement in their participating subcultures due to being out, freakish and queer. Originally a 3 piece joined by cellist Melissa Collins, the band has gone through a number of other string players over the years, collaborating in the past with Lost Lockets violinist Fiona Petra, cellist Celeste Nguyen, viola player Marit Schmidt of Vradiazei/Sangre De Muerdago, and currently, cellist and composer Jennifer Christensen (of Sadhaka/Møllehøj). 

Disemballerina recently soundtracked a fashion show and butoh performance for London based fashion designer Kumiko Tani (https://vimeo.com/145127271) , composed an intro for thrash metal band Order of The Gash on their last LP, and has played shows at locations as varied as abandoned train cars, morgues, art gallerieswarehouses, small theatres, outdoor gazebos, chandeliered ballrooms, metal festivals and one memorial service.  Based out of Portland, Oregon they have acquired an international  fan-base and draw instrumental inspiration from themes such as datura poisoning, nursing home dementia, bulls impaling their madators, saturn returning, an herbal combination that made graverobbing possible during times of the plague, carpathia romanticized as both a mountain range and source of mental disassociation, playing a disgusting crone in dungeons and dragons, falling out of destructive love, gender roles explored in some of the later Oz books, turkish rapist decapitation and gay 9 year olds committing suicide.


Poison Gown is painted in the same muted tones of funerary gloom and chamber doom that colored Undertaker so beautifully, though its major theme is of revenge rather than loss. It’s a dusky, haunted collection of gently insistent melodies that float in and out of consciousness like an old woman on her deathbed. That thanatalogical mood comes as no mere coincidence; Donovan has spent many of his nights as a hospice worker playing his harp for the dying, singing the dead to sleep with strings and silence.” -Vice

“What is the sound of being locked in a box, being transported to a bleak riverside, being gently slid into the river, sinking to the bottom and then being slowly enfolded by cold black waters, closing your eyes, opening them again some endless time later, realising you are conscious but not breathing, finding yourself in a stark, denuded landscape, alone, blasted by ice-razor winds, crawling into a solitary dark stone hovel on the moorland for shelter, being grabbed from behind, thrown into a box, being locked in the box, being transported to a bleak riverside, being gently slid into the river, sinking to the bottom and then being slowly enfolded by cold black waters and then closing your eyes?
It is the sound of Disemballerina’s ‘Sundowning.’ Good night.” 
-Warren Ellis, Dc/Marvel Comics Author and Screenwriter

“In all honesty, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.” -Kim Kelly, Pitchfork

“Disemballerina is not a metal band. Still, there’s something uncannily metallic about the group’s new album, Undertaker. The Portland-based ensemble plays chamber music using cello, viola, guitar, and harp, and the result is like a shiver of primordial apprehension vibrating just under the skin.” -Jason Heller, avclub & NPR

“So many bands attempt to create odes to death. So many bands go far over the top and have such unrealistic interpretations of death and how it is handled. This is a bleakly realistic, painfully honest look at passing. It doesn’t attempt toscare you, it doesn’t make death into some monster to be used in movies; it erases preconceived notions of a cartoony skeleton in a hood holding a farming implement. It presents death as a force of nature.” -Cvlt Nation
”When the first sound that you hear on the very first track on an album by a band that is entirely new to you is a recording of the death rattle, the very last dying breath, of a close friend of one of the musicians involved and the very last sound on that selfsame track is a recording of the purring of another member’s now deceased cat, it should be pretty obvious that you’re not dealing with just some run-of-the-mill outfit here.” 

-The Sleeping Shaman

”This record cements the trio as one of the best underground bands in America. I’m not crying, you’re crying.”

-Seattle Passive Aggressive 

“In nearly any other song, hearing the last gasps of a fellow human, a real person, would be hard to stomach. It’d be cheap and unearned, almost offensive. But Disemballerina handle death with such care. There’s nothing maudlin or mawkish about “Sundowning.” Myles and Marit’s violas and Christensen’s cello don’t quiver with soap opera woe. Ayla’s downtuned acoustic guitar doesn’t hollowly pluck heartstrings. No, “Sundowning” is as truthful as an open wound. It doesn’t try to teach you something about death, it just wants the capture the effect it has on those left behind. Death is already sad, lonely, and terrifying; it doesn’t need to be punched up. There’s a reason we create diversions to stop thinking about the inevitable, though we never really escape the memories of flatlines and final breaths that accrue over time. “Sundowning” is Disemballerina’s memories, their experiences. They bare their true, unfiltered selves, turning a subject of such sorrow into something comforting. You can wrap yourself up knowing that crushing feelings such as these aren’t yours alone to shoulder.” -Invisible Oranges 

”They performed by candlelight. The songs were all instrumental, but the titles sometimes came with explanations.  Impaled Matador was pretty self explanatory, but Phantom Limb wasn’t about phantom limbs, per se, but about spending a long period of time sleeping next to a loved one, and the feeling one has after that person is gone – sleepily rolling over and grasping emptiness.  If anything, the explanations made the songs even more powerful.” 
-Live Review by moremusic.typepad.com

”Disemballerina’s bleak, sullen, brooding string arrangements would provide the perfect accompaniment on a ride across the river Styx.”
-Portland Mercury

”slow, dark and melancholy in the vein of funereal doom.”
-Mamimum Rocknroll

”dynamic instrumentals performed with cello, viola, harp, and acoustic guitars, at times introspective and at others, violent and reckless.”
-Cosmic Hearse Blog

”sounds like a renaissance era existential crisis.”
-robin william knuckles blog

”If there was a Grammy for the most depressing record of the year, it would be a neck and neck race between Disemballerina’s “Undertaker” and Iggy Azalea’sThe New Classic.” –mishkanyc.com

 “alternately serene and stormy: sometimes they’re gothically graceful, with melodic lines that intertwine like the veins on a fallen autumn leaf, and other times they grow as fast and lashing as an icy winter gale.”
-Sf Weekly

“it’s all a game where the mouse is you and Disemballerina’s the cat.” -Eugene Weekly

“Un trabajo impecable, monstruosamente aguerrido, pulcro” (“An impeccable work, freakishly courageous, neat”)
-Free City Fanzines

“they have a terrible name. fucking incredible.”

-Don Anderson, Agalloch

“Along their topsy turvy mobius strip each shadow becomes light, antidote–poison, loathing — exaltation. To be disemboweled, not know the course of the attack, and to be nimbly sewn back together, is bliss.”

-Ruby L.L Voyager, writer, drag queen, performance artist, zinester, emcee

“this music is beautiful… it reminds me of all the pets i ever had… and shadows in the hallway… and light dancing on a pond… and war… and graveyards… and warm-hearted people… and forests growing tall…” 

-Fiona,  age 7

The band is currently looking for a label. This is an atrocity and must be resolved. This is some of the most captivating music I’ve heard in a long time. Organic, rich and engrossing.” 

-Toilet Ov Hell Blog


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