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I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of UsInlcudes Art Print Poster
New Project Led By Montreal Cellist Rebecca Foon
(ESMERINE, SILVER MT ZION, SET FIRE TO FLAMES)
• Features Jamie Thompson (UNICORNS) and Guest Players from LITTLE SCREAM, PATRICK WATSON BAND
and BELL ORCHESTRE
• Recorded and Mixed by Grammy-Winning Engineer
Mark Lawson (ARCADE FIRE)
Saltland is the new project led by Montreal-based cellist Rebecca Foon, best
known as a founding member of contemporary chamber group Esmerine and a former
member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion and Set Fire To Flames. Foon began composing solo
work in 2010, featuring multi-layered cello and hushed vocals at the intersection of
drone, no-wave, improv, dream-pop and minimalism. Joined by Jamie Thompson
(Unicorns, Esmerine) on miniature percussion, programming and signal processing,
Foon's live performances in Montreal and abroad over the past two years have seen
her sound progress towards gently rhythmic and electronic territory as well. She has
transfixed audiences with this new music while sharing the stage with Mary Margaret
O'Hara, Julia Kent, Nat Baldwin and Sam Amidon, among others. As her largely homerecorded debut album began taking shape throughout 2011, with numerous guests
contributing to various pieces, Foon adopted the Saltland moniker for this work.
I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us is a beautifully restrained debut
album that telescopes the directness and economy of Foon's compositional and vocal
styles into lush, twilight atmospheres aglow with luminescent tendrils and flickering
particles. Foon sings of childhood innocence lost, of tender utopic reveries and
downcast dystopic horizons, and the search for soft, stoic strength in a darkening,
devolving world. Foon's voice is discreet but defined, drifting on buoyant currents of
sound sourced from her plucked and bowed cello lines, in most cases propelled by
Thompson's bespoke percussion and understated programming/processing, with
touches of guitar, bass, horns, woodwinds, strings and backing vocals added by a cast
of supporting players. The record unfurls like a gauzy flag in a restless breeze at dusk:
a delicate, resolute sentinel set against the fading light.
The album's ambience also owes much to the work of Mark Lawson, the awardwinning engineer (Arcade Fire) who collaborated closely with Foon to record and mix
these songs at Six Saint V, her apartment studio in Montreal. Lawson, along with
friend and percussionist Thompson, helped to forge a balance between lo-fi intimacy
and shimmering breadth with these recordings, remaining faithful to the all-anologue
instrumentation of the source material while judiciously deploying signal processing
strategies to subtly refract, saturate and expand the sonic landscape. With
contributions from Laurel Sprengelmeyer and Jess Robertson (Little Scream), Mishka
Stein (Patrick Watson), Colin Stetson (Bon Iver), Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry
(Arcade Fire) among others, Saltland offers up an unassumingly immersive debut
album of searching songs that blend several core influences into a distinctively
naturalistic sound. Saltland stakes out an unaffected, meditative, clear-eyed and
earnest space where minimalism, dream-pop, drone, shoegaze, confessional folk,
modern chamber and ambient/electronic coexist and coalesce.1. Golden Alley
2. I Thought It Was Us
3. Treehouse Schemes
5. But It Was All Of Us
6. Colour The Night Sky
8. Hearts Mend$25.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
VolcanoJames Bagshaw (vocals, guitar), Tom Warmsley (bass, backing vocals), Sam Toms (drums) and Adam Smith (keys) - are set to release their new album, Volcano, via Fat Possum.
All the elements people loved with Temples' debut, Sun Structures, remain intact, but this time, there is a noticeable evolution presented from the outset. It's clear Volcano is the sound of Temples squaring up to their potential, immediately evident with "Certainty." Its beefed-up beats reveal an expanded sonic firmament, one in which bright synth hooks and insistent choruses circle around each other over chord sequences that strike just the right balance between nice and queasy. "If there's a sense of scale," says frontman James Bagshaw, "It was really just a result of implementing a load of things that we didn't know about the first time around. We didn't even have a subwoofer to listen back to things that we did on Sun Structures, so there was nothing below 50Hz on that record. We didn't even know those frequencies were there!"
Entirely self-produced and written by all four members of the band, Temples' melodies seem to come effortlessly. There are sun-dazed numbers and lysergic dream-pop songs and those where synth and mellotron interweave to beguiling effect. One thing is certain; it's harder to spot the influences this time around. Mystical language has been supplanted by something more direct. They've been broken down and blended together - fossilized into a single source of creative fuel, resulting in a sound that is undoubtedly Temples. As described by co-founding member Warmsley, "we discovered a lot as we went along, and the excitement at having done so radiates outwards."1. Certainty
2. All Join In
3. I Wanna Be Your Mirror
4. Oh The Saviour
5. Born Into The Sunset
6. How Would You Like To Go?
7. Open Air
8. In My Pocket
10. Mystery Of Pop
11. Roman Godlike Man
12. Strange Or Be Forgotten$20.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
ADAD-WES-6316xIn Tall Buildings
- CHICAGO TRIBUNE
A winning mix of folk, chamber-pop, and
- TIME OUT CHICAGO
In Tall Buildings' music grabs you immediately.
- HUFFINGTON POST
In Tall Buildings is the aural representation of a
pleasantly scattered mind.
- AMERICAN SONGWRITER
Erik Hall worked patiently and solitarily for four years to craft Driver, his sophomore album as In Tall
Buildings. Produced between his home studio in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and a 60's
farmhouse in Leelanau County, Michigan, the album comes twenty years after Hall originally fell in
love with home recording at age 13 - the year he got his hands on his first multitrack recorder.
Raised in downtown Chicago, Hall played drums and guitar in high school rock bands, and then went
on to study percussion and audio engineering at the University of Michigan. While in college he joined
the avant afro-funk band NOMO and met His Name is Alive's Warn Defever, who produced many of the
band's albums. Under Defever's tutelage, Hall honed many of the recording and production techniques
he would later apply to his solo recordings. As he explains, I was the guy in the band badgering him
with questions throughout the sessions, trying to learn everything I could and then trying it out
myself at home. As a multi-instrumentalist and producer Hall eventually went on to record and tour
with several groups, including old friends His Name is Alive and, more recently, dream-pop duo Wild
Belle, performing the rhythm section tracks and lending an engineering hand to their Columbia
In 2010 Hall's home recording efforts yielded the first In Tall Buildings album, which The Huffington
Post called gorgeous indie-pop, and the Chicago Tribune found hypnotic. In an interview with the
Chicago Tribune, he summed up much of his philosophy about composition with a pair of conflicting
quotes he attributes to Allen Ginsberg and Kurt Vonnegut, respectively: First thought, best thought
and Edit yourself, mercilessly. Loosely guided by these principles, Hall set out once again to
assemble a new batch of songs, when he wasn't recording and touring with other bands.
In stark contrast to the dense polyrhythms echoed by NOMO's albums, Driver uses a relatively simple
palette to create spacious pop songs, leaving plenty of room for Hall's often Peter Gabriel-esque
vocals to shine. The music, though culled from every guitar, keyboard, and drum he managed to fit
into his home studio, is powerful in it's restrained simplicity, and it's a compelling foil to the haunting
gravity of his vocal performance. Never rushed, his melodies deliver elliptical lyrics that manage to
feel intimate, while retaining a sense of mystery. Ultimately, the album's melancholic vibe is relatable,
rather than moping or histrionic, and in the end these songs are incredibly comforting and inviting.1. Bawl Cry Wail
2. All You Pine
6. Flare Gun
7. I'll Be Up Soon
9. When You See Me Fall
10. Pouring Out$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
HarmThe celestial dreampop vocals for Infinity Girl are only made more enticing when immersed in a sea of guitar fuzz
and post-punk rhythms.1. Hesse
5. Not Man
8. Dirty Sun
11. Around Me$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Oceanside: 1991-1993As the second contribution to Captured Tracks' Shoegaze Archives series, deardarkhead offers their brilliant take on the genre with Oceanside: 1991-1993. The New Jersey-based band was formed in 1998 with their name taken from an anonymously written Irish poem. Their sound perfectly blends post-punk guitar experimentalism with a heavy atmospheric dreampop aura, similar to Pale Saints and Ride. This release is completely remastered with previously unreleased tracks, all never before on vinyl.1. Surf's Up
5. Just For You
8. June 28th
10. Little Marinara
13. One Of A Kind
14. Lighthouse$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Hurry Up, We're Dreaming2LP set. New 2011 double album! Epic dream-pop 'n' blissed-out shoegaze from the French phenomenon. Cameo by Zola Jesus. Includes Midnight City.LP 1
2. Midnight City
4. Where The Boats Go
6. Raconte moi une histoire
7. A Train To Pluton
8. Claudia Lewis
9. This Bright Flash
10. When Will You Come Home?
11. Soon, My Friend
1. My Tears Are Becoming A Sea
2. New Map
3. OK Pal
4. Another Wave From You
6. Year One, One UFO
8. Steve McQueen
9. Echoes Of Mine
10. Klaus I love You
11. Outro$25.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
GoneGone is the Downtown Records full-length debut from Philadelphia-based Vacationer, the new dream-pop influenced project from Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line, Person L) and company. Interestingly enough, the album is linearly preceded by the Gone EP and the Gone single.1. Everyone Knows
2. Good As New
5. No Rules
7. Having It All
8. Summer End
9. Great Love
11. Be With You$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Disconnect From DesireDream-pop trio School of Seven Bells return with their highly anticipated sophomore album, Disconnect From Desire. The band made a lot of noise with their debut album, Alpinisms, thanks to incredible web and press support and a hectic tour schedule.
"A promising blend of the psychedelic and the futuristic." - New York Times1. Windstorm
2. Heart Is Strange
3. Dust Devil
4. I L U
9. Bye Bye Bye
10. The Wait$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Pet GriefOriginally released in 2006, Pet Grief is the second album from the Swedish dream-pop group The Radio Dept. Showing a slightly more dreamy, less noisy, side of the band, Pet Grief reached #11 on the Swedish charts and continued to cultivate new listeners for the band all over the world. Reissued on 180g vinyl!1. Its Personal
2. Pet Grief
3. A Window
4. I Wanted You To Feel the Same
6. The Worst Taste In Mus
7. Every Time
8. What Will Give?
10. Sleeping In
12. Always A Relief$21.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Better Days EPLos Angeles band Fonda return from an 8 year hiatus with six new tracks of melodic indie pop. Fusing togetherclassic pop hooks and noisy dreampop, the duo's latest is evocative of such early 90s bands as My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Ride.1. Better Days
2. A Love That Won't Let You Go
3. In The Coach Station Light
4. Summertime Flight
5. My Heart Is Dancing
6. Some Things Aren't Worth Knowing$11.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Everything Is ForgottenFirst Pressing With Gatefold Sleeve On Magenta Vinyl
Methyl Ethel's new album was co-produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals), in collaboration with the Perth trio's frontman Jake Webb. Written and recorded by Webb, Everything Is Forgotten finds Methyl Ethel refining sounds and rendering them in 3D, thanks in part to London-based James Ford, who has been working with Webb on the follow-up to debut album Oh Inhuman Spectacle. The pair's collaboration across the coming release has infused their shoegaze dream-pop palate with electronic flourishes, further evolving Methyl Ethel's sound from initial EPs Guts and Teeth.1. Drink Wine
3. No. 28
4. Femme Maison/One Man House
5. L'Heure des SorciÉres
6. Act of Contrition
8. Hyakki Yako
9. Summer Moon
10. Weeds Through The Rind
11. Shlager$24.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Herein WildFormer Dum Dum Girls member Frankie Rose releases the follow-up to her dream-pop-driven 2012 debut Interstellar. Titled Herein Wild, the artist's sophomore set drops via her new label home, Fat Possum.
As a founding member, songwriter, instrumentalist and vocalist in Vivian Girls and drummer and occasional vocalist in Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose has been an integral part of two of the most highly acclaimed and influential groups to come out of Brooklyn's still-vital music scene in the past several years. Her solo project not only reflects the aesthetic earmarks of both those groups, but it also reveals her as a fully-formed artist in her own right.
Ms. Rose's music is haunted by the ghosts of 60s girl group, Brill Building, and 80s and 90s noise pop in equal measure. It's a spooky, lovely sound - Frankie's ethereal yet affectation-free voice swirling in a sea of church-like harmonies over a bed of tambourines, bells, and propulsive drumming. Recalling in spirit such groups as The Aislers Set and Black Tambourine, Frankie's music is both timeless and immediate, both deeply personal and completely universal.1. You For Me
3. Into Blue
4. The Depths
5. Cliffs As High
6. Minor Times
7. Question Reason
9. Street Of Dreams
10. Requiem$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
WorshipGuitars as jet engines; guitars as haunted electronics; guitars as filling-melting white heat: A Place To Bury Strangers' new album Worship is explosive, visceral, and dark. APTBS' DIY-braintrust of Death By Audio wizard Oliver Ackermann and bassist Dion Lunadon continue the evolution of songwriting that began with Onwards to the Wall, the band's 2011 EP.
Now on Worship, they interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and '80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially A Place To Bury Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Standout You Are The One is a coldwave white squall, with Ackerman coming through like an austere and menacing Damo Suzuki. Later on Dissolved, the band methodically builds an atmospheric battle charge only to take a hard left mid-song into pure, shimmering Cure territory. There are ambitious, trend-bucking choices at every turn.
This album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered by A Place To Bury Strangers. It is our vision of what our music should sound like in 2012, not someone else's interpretation, says Lunadon. Every sound on the album is made by us and our tools; tools created by us, used on no other recordings, and purposefully built for this project. This is real. Some of it is the band being in complete control; bending, shaping and building the songs and the sounds. Other parts are the band relinquishing control and letting the songs and sounds take over and produce themselves.We are not trying to reinvent ourselves, but simply push ourselves further in all aspects of our music.
We made this, we recorded this, we did everything, adds Ackerman. Yes, we chose to do this and no, we didn't have to but we think it is pretty cool. No producer made us. We didn't go to school for any of this and we don't have time for tutorials. We invented this and now we are sharing it with you.1. Alone
2. You Are The One
3. Mind Control
6. Why I Can't Cry Anymore
9. And I'm Up
11. Leaving Tomorrow
12. On Every Page$18.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
All YoursWidowspeak has grown up in a lot of ways. The band's third album, All Yours, is one that could only come from Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas: a honed and elegant interweaving of dream-pop and slowcore rock and roll, easygoing melodies and dusty, snaking guitars. It's also their finest release to date: ten beautiful songs that are refreshingly straightforward yet built from the same well-chosen and deftly-used tools the band has always worked with. All Yours is ambitious without feeling labored-over, anchored in the strengths of Widowspeak's consistent influences. There are those familiar Morricone-come-Verlaine guitar passages, moody and country-tinged instrumentation, watery tremolo, velvety stacked vocals. You can hear Molly's affection for The Cranberries and The Sundays in the wavering melodies of 'Dead Love' or 'Girls', and Rob's adoration of George Harrison and Robbie Robertson in his brilliantly economical guitar playing. The result is an aesthetically diverse and profoundly nostalgic sound; indebted to past eras without feeling dated. After many line up changes, the band chose to work again with Jarvis Taveniere, who produced their self-titled debut in 2011. They also enlisted him and drummer Aaron Neveu (both of whom play in Woods) as the studio rhythm section. The presence of Taveniere and Neveu contributes a groove that wasnít there previously, and there's a few other new things: the swell of strings at critical moments, and for the first time, voices beyond Molly's own. We finally get to hear Rob sing in the earnestly laid-back 'Borrowed World.' Members of psych outfit Quilt contribute harmonies and keys throughout the record, most notably in 'My Baby's Gonna Carry On', and 'Cosmically Aligned'. Perhaps All Yours is so refreshing because it's a return to form. It's a record that feels as effortlessly unplanned as their debut, that serves to capture a moment rather than create one.1. All Yours
3. Dead Love (So Still)
6. Borrowed World
7. Cosmically Aligned
8. My Baby's Gonna Carry On
9. Coke Bottle Green
10. Hands$22.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Strange Weekend (Awaiting Repress)Strange Weekend is Porcelain Rafts debut record, yet in many ways its his 156th. Somewhere in New York, Rome, or maybe London, there is a suitcase full of tapes, minidiscs and CDs, days and days worth of music, all of it the result of Mauro Remiddis 27 years of travels across Europe, from his native Italy to London; of caravaning with the Berlin Youth Circus playing traditional gypsy Klezmer music; of reinterpreting traditional music in North Korea; and of a stint playing piano for an Off Broadway tap dance show.
Amazingly, Strange Weekend, with deep roots in so many times and places, is an album that beautifully captures the fleeting right now. Remiddis interest in movement, about capturing a momentary now en route to the next, is apparent; postcards and polaroids of buildings and faces from the street flicker past. The projects genesis lies in this visual imagery. Over the past year, Remiddi has compiled a catalogue of images, gathered from the various nooks and crannies of the internet, that have served as notes, inspiration, context and a map for Porcelain Rafts music.
Remiddis androgynous vapor of a voice weaves like a ghost between Nick Gilder and The Alessi Brothers, Julee Cruise and Judee Sill. In more contemporary terms, Porcelain Raft stands confidently on a high hill between the sounds of M83 and Beach House. Lead track Drifting In and Out is loping and anthemic; gauzy and chiming. Shapeless and Gone follows with a heavy strum reminiscent of Cosmic Dancer, full of mood and style without all the wearying excesses and feathered boas. Porcelain Rafts thesis statement hits when side-B kicks off with Unless You Speak From Your Heart. Remiddis enigmatic vocals carrying a hook so simple that you might think you sang it first; keys and bass that might make the needle jump off of your turntable; and a sense of raw sincerity that has come to trademark Remiddis songs is what ultimately resonates.
And here, the myriad travels crystallize into something visceral; you may not be able to see the visuals Remiddi holds so dear, but you can feel them throughout Strange Weekend, and they stay with you as you travel on. Strange Weekend might have been made in a small place (a Brooklyn basement, in fact), but it is huge dream-pop, with melodies and synths billowing out in all directions.1. Drifting In And Out
2. Shapeless & Gone
3. Is It Too Deep For You?
4. Put Me To Sleep
6. Unless You Speak From Your
8. The End Of Silence
9. If You Have A Wish
11. The Way In$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Expect The BestHamilton and Thomas excel at setting heartbroken lyrics to addictively catchy melodies. - All Music
....this two-person country-tinged-dream-pop band have a steady, velvety sound that you just want to wander over to on a lazy weekend. - GQ
Seven years in, Widowspeak remain purveyors of mood. They're an outfit ever preoccupied with the influence of place and the passage of time on personal experience: the way vivid memories can feel like movies or dreams. Existing In a sonic overlap of somber indie rock, dream pop, downtrodden shoegaze,slow-core and invented cowboy grunge, Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask,How Did we get here? Expect the Best, their fourth for Brooklyn's Captured Tracks,sees Widowspeak finding balance between opposing forces: darkness and light, quiet and loud, tension and calm.
Written while singer and songwriter Molly Hamilton and lead guitarist Robert Earl Thomas were living in Tacoma, WA after previous stints in upstate New York and Brooklyn, so much moving around -- specifically the move back to the place she grew up -- was the catalyst for a record concerned with self examination and the sense of dread that comes from feeling adrift (Dog).Whether navigating the anxieties of the digital age (Expect the Best), struggling for motivation (When I Tried), or critiquing wanderlust and aspiration(The Dream), the songs recognize there's no going back in time. Hamilton's Lyrics explore the space between regret and anticipation, reconciling the desire to dwell with a need to expect the best, even as the best seems unlikely.
Although Widowspeak's previous two records -- Almanac (2013) and All Yours(2015) -- were conceived as a duo, Expect the Best finds them playing to the specific strengths of their current touring incarnation. The album exhibits a palpable energy that reflects the band's live shows.. The band navigates dynamic changes with subtlety and restraint; the nine tracks brim with both wide-eyed optimism and resigned melancholy. Their usual palette of dusty guitars and angular twang are still front and center, but now with a 90s homage, even if abstractly. It's their heaviest record to date, but never loses the sense of intimacy Widowspeak is known for.1. The Dream
2. When I Tried
5. Good Sport
6. Let Me
7. Right On
8. Expect the Best
9. Fly on the Wall$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Passage (Awaiting Repress)Brooklyn, NY's Exitmusic, comprised of Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino, present their debut album, Passage. The 10-song set is a collection of newly-written songs and some of their older tunes that received some new coats of paint. Here, the two tethers that make up Exitmusic's sound, one stirring atmospherics, one of grandioise and thoughtful pop, are let to bow further out than ever before. They are, however, also pulled into a tighter, sharper knot at the center. There are big, emotional dynamic shifts, and a wave-crashing momentum across the set without ever breaking a sustained feeling of tenderness. It's dream-pop for those of us whose dreams are Lawrence of Arabia-epic in scope: lulling, apocalyptic, celestial, triumphant.
Recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn with mixer Nicholas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter), Church and Palladino, along with the assistance of new bandmates drummer Dru Prentiss and live electronics by Nicholas Shelestak, built on the chilling, beautiful aesthetic they had created as a duo when recording at home. The result is a sound that is more powerful and more nuanced, covering broad oceans of emotional terrain. Opener and title track "Passage" is like watching a great shifting of tides through rapid time-lapse photography, introducing new dynamics in one magnificent breath. It is a statement of intent that tears down the Victorian boudoir gauze found on previous efforts. The ghosts are still piercing the veil, but now they're throwing chairs. The song begins gently, with candlelight piano plucks, distant explosions on the horizon, aching breaths and moans. But in moments, the oceans swell and lurch as it detonates into a shower of brilliant shrapnel.
Elsewhere, on album standout "The Night," Exitmusic's gaze moves upwards with chiming, blurry guitars, the heavenly sighs of Palladino in the background and one of the album's finest choruses in the foreground. And "Storms" sounds like Peng-era Stereolab as seen through a fun house carnival mirror. The album has a bona fide, fist-pumping anthem "The Modern Age" and closes elegantly with the starkly devastating "Sparks of Light. Simply put: This is arena goth.
Passage is a longtime in the making, and certainly worth the wait. Church and Palladino started writing together several years ago, when the Canadian-born Church moved to New York City, Palladino's home, following a year teaching English in Taiwan and India. Their collective sonic interests: layers, textures, churning, spacious guitars (Palladino had been playing hers since age 12), blinking electronics, shimmering vocals, created a fruitful writing partnership immediately. Their songs began to take on new dimensions when the pair moved to Los Angeles a year later, finally committing their compositions to the recording process. A few twists and turns, and a move back to New York City, later, Exitmusic found a home with Secretly Canadian who released their first EP, From Silence, in the Fall of 2011. Critical raves for the four song collection poured in globally, with everyone from New York Magazine to The Guardian heralding the band's arrival. With the new live line-up, Exitmusic will have toured with artists such as Phantogram, School of Seven Bells, The Joy Formidable and A Place To Bury Strangers.1. Passage
2. The Night
3. The City
4. White Noise
6. The Wanting
8. The Modern Age
9. The Cold
10. Sparks of Light$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed AWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
I Become A ShadeSeoul have never been in a rush. Despite the overwhelming praise that met the Montreal trio's first two online releases - "Stay With Us" and "White Morning" - and despite the industry chatter that surrounded their first live performance at Pop Montreal 2013, kindergarten classmates Nigel Ward and Julian Flavin, and art school transplant Dexter Garcia remained resolute in fine tuning the dozen songs that would become their official debut: I Become A Shade.
"We're just very intent on trying to get our musical ideas to exist as the definitive versions of themselves," says Ward. "Granted, each idea has limits, but its a question of discovering the borders of an idea and then putting its essence on display - so much of that has to do with the slow sculptural nature of studio work. Playing around in a studio invites elements of chance, collage, and trial-and-error into the process, which feels essential to having a song really reveal itself to you. Its a process of organizing our intuitions into cohesive moments and seeing where it takes us."
Where their intuitions took them is a very special place indeed. From the lush ache and bouyance of "Stay With Us" to the sculpted synths and angular sincerity of "The Line," I Become A Shade is the sort of record whose every detail, whether panoramic or microscopic, is on glorious, deliberate display. A work separated into three distinct suites, the record is equal parts gauzy dream-pop, reverberant R&B, and speculative ambient - a world where sentences are often left unfinished and meaning rears its head in the intervals. The propulsive "Real June" and "Silencer" both hurtle through space like rain-drenched athletes, while "I Negate" and "White Morning" shimmer with a hushed honesty, growing and pirouetting with dreamy eventuality into a thick focus.
Set for release on Grand Jury in the US and Last Gang in Canada, every element of Shade is a testament to Seoul's painstaking attention to detail, whether in the stark black & white art that accompanies the album, or the serene videos the band set to its music.
"We do all our own art stuff and collaborate as closely as possible with video people," says Flavin. "We engineer and mix our recordings too, so it's very hands on."
And in Seoul all hands are created equal. "It's rare that a song doesn't change hands quite a few times prior to us finishing it," says Garcia. "And most of this elaboration on an idea is done rotating through a computer and reacting to each other's contributions in relation to the direction things are going in." Take lead single "The Line" as an example. "Nigel added a soft vocal that pillowed up above the angularity of the synths," Garcia continues, "And you get a really nice contrast between the two, where the core feeling of the song is revealed by its being expressed in two hauntingly different ways."
And that's what I Become A Shade is meant to be - an examination of poles - a debut that rains with the melancholy of sidelong glances and rented rooms, while frequently transcending its own desperateness in moments of breathless self-discovery. While one might think something labored over for so long would come with a prescribed understanding, Seoul would rather fans meet and interpret the record at their own personal junctures. "We're interested in presenting different versions of the self, the endless shift from self-loathing and loneliness to vibrancy and connectedness and back," says Flavin. "All states are valid, and we've tried to collect and display the beauty and necessity of both spectrums of experience - how it can feel both awful and cathartic to liquify into your surrounding and disappear."
All the while, the rain continues to fall.1. I Become a Shade
2. The Line
3. Haunt / A Light
4. Real June
6. White Morning
7. Stay With Us
8. Thought You Were
9. I Negate
10. Carrying Home Food In Winter
12. Galway$17.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now