Sister Ursuline
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Sister Ursuline

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Alternative Singer/Songwriter




"The Beauty Between Her Thighs: A Profile of Four Indie Cellists You Should Know and Love"

Sister Ursuline is the dreadlock’d beneficiary of a long procession of mad genius cellists and performers who came before her, and it is instantly clear that she has no intention of squandering this gift. Sister Ursuline belongs on this list, in addition to having a name that works inherently well onstage, for being the true heiress of the other women on this list - Melora Creager, Zoë Keating and Unwoman - and for being the torch-bearer for the next generation of woman warrior-poets.

Within her, you’ll find the breadcrumbs of Creager’s storytelling panache, the technical savvy of Keating, and the brand-competence of Unwoman. Sister Ursuline is a cabinet of curiosities, of rusty keys, rusty secrets, scraps of yellowed paper and long-ago lingering scent of vetiver soaked into the wood. A found-object artist of musical influences and yet a deeply intelligent heart beats beneath, making old stories new again, making odd things familiar, and weaving a heady tapestry of sound that promises to be her own. - Dirge Magazine

"Sister Ursuline's Debut EP Promises Great Things to Come"

I first heard of the relatively unknown Australian cellist, vocalist and composer Sister Ursuline when Dirge Magazine first mentioned her back in January. She has finally released her debut EP; Dramatic, Grim and Humorous. Judging by the quality of the six tracks on offer here, she has more than earned her exposure to new audiences and will be picking up fans on every outlet.

Like many other cello-based acts, Sister Ursuline roots her music firmly in history - not just through her choice of instrument, but in both her fashion and the stories she tells within her songs. Her sound is less rock and more folk than many of her contemporaries, and the EP has a stripped, minimalist feel (her website proudly proclaims “all tracks guaranteed to be 100% unmastered”). Each song feels like a little historical story - “The Cherhill White Horse (Dr. Alsop’s Dream),” for instance, tells the story of the real-life Dr. Alsop and the creation of the white horse hill figure in Wiltshire, England, in the 1780s. Other tracks range through different time periods, from the UK to the USA, with ease.

The EP’s mood is set by introductory track “Somatic Fictions,” which presents an echoing, off-kilter tale recounting a woman’s “romantic” death, presumably from tuberculosis. Tales of madness, illness, obsession and suffering fill the EP, putting me in the mind of fellow stringed instrumentalist and chronicler of mental illness Emilie Autumn, minus Emilie’s industrial production. Heartbreaking stand-out track “Sister Ursuline” chronicles a nun succumbing to illness, imploring “I am well” over an increasingly manic, scissoring melodic line, contrasted with a majestic, soaring refrain that has been stuck in my head for days.

The EP is not all doom and gloom, however; final track “The Duke of Beaufort” retells the birth of badminton with an innuendo-laden, humorously sexualised delivery, perfectly satirising our Victorian ancestor’s fear that playing the sport could lead to sexual corruption and perversion.

Doubly impressive are the variety of sounds that Sister Ursuline has managed to coax from the cello and incorporate into her songs without any overt electronic manipulation or distortion. There is always something sinister throbbing away in the background, even on “Cher Ami” (the EP’s most melodic offering), while “In the East River” backs high-pitched squeals that sound almost like dolphin calls with a bouncing, picked bass line. The vocal styling, too, remains varied: sometimes dissonant and choral, sometimes spoken, and sometimes floating and harmonious.

For a first release, this is accomplished, heady stuff. Sister Ursuline has already proven herself to be not just an accomplished musician, but an excellent storyteller. I for one will be keeping an eye on her from now on. Being capable of crafting tracks this good with no backing and little budget, with little support, she has the potential to create something phenomenal. - Dirge Magazine


Dramatic, Grim and Humorous - Independently released EP, 2015.



Sister Ursuline is a Sydney-based singer-songwriter and cellist. Dubbed a “sonic historian” by performance artist Betty Grumble (link) and “found-object artist of musical influences” (The Beauty Between Her Thighs, Dirge Magazine 2015), she draws on historical sources and folk stories to create otherworldly narrative songs: asylum-bound nuns, shape-shifting witches and iron-willed aristocrats inhabit “echoing, off-kilter tale[s]… of madness, illness, obsession and suffering…” (Brian Ennis, 2015).

In 2015 she independently recorded and released her debut EP, Dramatic, Grim and Humorous - “…accomplished, heady stuff…” (Ibid), a collection of six songs spanning hundreds of years. The same year, she joined cello-rock ensemble Rasputina (link) on their North American tour as first chair, alongside front woman Melora Creager and pianist Luis Mojica (link).

Since then, Sister Ursuline has headlined as a solo performer on Australia’s East Coast as well as contributing to a number of albums as guest cellist - notably Luis Mojica’s Wholesome and How A Stranger Is Made. In live performance, she uses effects and looping on the fly to create a multi-cello ensemble and vocal harmonies. She was nominated for the Newcastle Fringe Festival’s ‘Artistic Integrity Award’ and is currently working on her debut album release.

Band Members