Esmerine is the modern chamber ensemble co-founded by cellist Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Silver Mt Zion) and percussionist Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor). Following their previous album Lost Voices (2016 Juno nominee for Instrumental Album and winner for Album Packaging), Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for an NFB documentary about independent journalism in the Middle East. Those sessions kept rolling throughout 2016-2017, informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination and our ever-accelerating degradation/denial of nature. Mechanics Of Dominion is Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-informed work, tracing an arc through Neo-Classical, Minimalist, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Baroque, Jazz and Rock idioms to invoke lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is a requiem for our intractably complex and suffering planet and a paean to the imperative wisdom of indigenous ethics. Stylistically, the album brings mallet instruments to the fore: marimba, glockenspiel and piano are a prominent through-line on the album's diverse tracks. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings also provide formidable elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this song cycle. MontrÃ©al visual artist Jean-Sebastien Denis provides brilliant abstract compositions for the album's deluxe artwork and packaging.
One of 2016's strangest, most hypnotic and charming albums of experimental synth-electronic music was volume 1 from Off World, about which Boomkat said "a stellar new project headed by Sandro Perri, one of the most singular producers in contemporary music; featuring some of the most inventive, spellbinding work in his catalogue. One of the most original and satisfying albums we've heard this year - can't wait to see what the next installments bring." This is the next installment, fittingly titled 2. Perri has been drip-feeding Constellation bundles of tracks culled from a fascinating bounty of private and previously unreleased tracks that has been accumulating for some time - a tickle trunk of enchantingly left-of-leftfield collaborative recordings rich in deconstructed melody and rhythm, pointillist and aleatory composition techniques, primarily employing a wide array of vintage synths and drum machines. Co-conspirators include producers Lorenz Peter (Processor), Drew Brown (Lower Dens, Beck) and Susumu Mukai (Zongamin), and instrumentalists Craig Dunsmuir (Glissandro 70, Kanada 70) and Eric Chenaux, among others. Off World is alien electronics played humanly, resulting in genuinely exploratory and peculiarly sui generis electronic music that sounds like it could have issued from any time in the past 40-50 years.
this long-playing record, a thing we made in the midst of communal mess, raising dogs and children. eyes up and filled with dreadful joy - we aimed for wrong notes that explode, a quiet muttering amplified heavenward. we recorded it all in a burning motorboat.
1. UNDOING A LUCIFERIAN TOWERS - look at that fucking skyline! big lazy money writ in dull marble obelisks! imagine all those buildings much later on, hollowed out and stripped bare of wires and glass, listen - the wind is whistling through all 3,000 of its burning window-holes!
2. BOSSES HANG - labor, alienated from the wealth it creates, so that holy cow, most of us live precariously! kicking at it, but barely hanging on! also - the proud illuminations of our shortened lives! also - more of us than them!
3. FAM / FAMINE - how they kill us = absentee landlord, burning high-rise. the loud panics of child-policemen and their exploding trigger-hands. neglect, cancer maps, drone strike, famine.
4. ANTHEM FOR NO STATE - kanada, emptied of its minerals and dirty oil. emptied of its trees and water. a crippled thing, drowning in a puddle, covered in ants. the ocean doesn't give a shit because it knows it's dying too.
much love to all the other lost and wondering ones,xoxoxox god's pee / montrÃ©al / 2017
Do Make Say Think has been widely celebrated as one of the preeminent instrumental rock bands of the 90s-00s. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is the group's first album in eight years - and a brilliant addition to one of the most consistently inventive and critically praised discographies in the 'post-rock' canon. The band has been acclaimed as "the supernova in Constellation's stellar network...arguably the finest back catalogue of any currently operating instrumental rock band" (Drowned In Sound), creating "some of the most honest, unpretentious, group-oriented rock of their time" (Popmatters). Among the band's strengths is an ineffable naturalism that avoids anything too woolly, proggy, purist or clichÃ©d, while remaining a fundamentally guitar-driven group whose ornate four-and six-string interplay uniquely balances rockism, pastoralism, and electronic-influenced post-production. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is at once familiar and as fresh as anything DMST has committed to tape; produced and mixed as always by the band itself - a continuing affirmation of the group's DIY ethos and their singular self-production acumen and aesthetic. Do Make Say Think enter their third decade with a new album that reaffirms their promise of genuinely expressive, narrative and restorative instrumental rock music - an one that will surely rank among their best.
Jessica Moss is known best as the violinist, co-composer, and backing vocalist with the acclaimed chamber-punk band Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (SMZ) and the avant-klezmer group Black Ox Orkestar. As fans of these projects will know, Moss has developed a distinctive and impressive approach to violin that combines a natural technical fluidity, a recombinant command of folk, classical and modern idioms, and an adventurous exploration of signal-bending and analog effects that uniquely expand the spectrum of the violin as sound source. Her solo work is deeply rooted in live performance, where she builds up and breaks down stunning longform compositions in real time with an array of pedals - including octave/harmonizers and samplers/loopers. To hear all of this rallied on her debut full-length solo release is intensely rewarding: comprised of two side-length multi-movement compositions, Pools Of Light unfolds at a stately, inexorable pace, combining sound-art and signal-processed timbres, extended melodic and contrapuntal lines, and the periodic deployment of stark, minimalist vocals. Pools Of Light is elegiac durational music at the intersection of neo-classicism, soundtrack, electronic, art-punk and avant-folk - a decidedly organic, non-academic, profoundly searching and emotive work, guided by Moss’s liner note mantra: "FEELING LOVE IN A MELTING WORLD".
Joni Void is the newly minted pseudonym of producer Jean Cousin - known until now in online music communities as the prolific Johnny Ripper. Moving to MontrÃ©al in 2012 from his native France, Cousin plunged into the city's fertile DIY/loft scene and rapidly evolved from cloistered bedroom/virtual persona to highly engaged organizer and multi-media live performer. An increasing obsession with micro-sampling, aleatory composition and history of cinema - alongside an increasingly active practice of remixing and beat-making - has seen Cousin's music flourish in fascinating ways. His personal hero Delia Derbyshire (BBC Radiophonic Workshop) has cemented his commitment to making musique concrÃ¨te avant-pop soundscaping. On Selfless, Joni Void constructs tracks entirely from found sources and aims not to ‘play’ anything at all - while celebrating intimate community and inter-subjectivity through solicitation of private voice recordings from various musician and spoken word friends. The album is an exploration of catharsis and the escape from entrapments of subjectivity and solipsism, chock full of stand-out tracks that work in on their own but also make for a wonderfully complex, coherent and compelling album of structured sampledelica, balancing a freeform spirit with the conceptual, emotive and stylistic specificity of individual songcraft, to glorious effect.
The second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran MontrÃ©al cellist and composer Rebecca Foon (Esmerine, Thee Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames). With A Common Truth, Foon presents a new song cycle that takes climate change as its theme (Foon is co-founder of Pathway to Paris, among other organizing and activist roles in the decarbonization movement) and features her cello as the primary source for all sounds on the record. The one notable exception: Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, The Dirty Three) is the sole invited guest player, contributing his inimitable violin (and pump organ) to the album's four instrumental tracks. A Common Truth is an album of gorgeous integrity, restraint, and meditative intensity that alternates between wordless instrumentals and lyric-driven pieces, balancing austere, organic intimacy and lush, multi-layered expansiveness. The naturalistic rock production of Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) anchors Saltland's juxtaposition of dry and processed strings, with Foon's voice very much within the mix but never veiled or concealed; a voice described as "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" (Mojo). Electronic music strategies, via signal processing and re-sampling, are deployed minimally and judiciously - and all the more powerfully as such.
Those Who Walk Away is the new project of Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton, best known for his widely acclaimed musical score (and Emmy Award-winning collaboration) Speaking In Tongues with the choreographer Paul Taylor.
The Infected Mass is a haunted and profoundly emotive requiem of minimalist composition that combines ghostly strings and choral voices with musique concrÃ¨te; melodic passages rise and fall amidst rumbling and sibilant drones sourced from humming and whispering voices and the sound of human blood flow, punctuated by cockpit voice recordings of airplanes in distress. Patton obsessively sculpts the recordings with erasure techniques, seeking liminal and transcendent horizons of sonic materiality through absence, subtraction, silence and collapsing structure.
Patton explains: "There is something very genuine and at the same time very wrong in what I am doing. But this work is disturbingly personal for me. The music is filled with ghosts and artifacts I couldn't erase, a pathology which infects everything, of decayed memories haunted by the ghost of my brother, who was killed in a plane crash."
The Infected Mass is a powerful work of avant-garde sacral music, executed with elegiac beauty and restraint. Co-produced by Paul Corley (Ben Frost, Oneohtrix Point Never).
Psychedelic rock, krautrock, desert rock, punk rock, noise rock, afrobeat, experimental pop, post-rock, electronic; all are touchstones for Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche. Their multi-movement durational music arguably combines trance rock and audio collage above all - a diced and spliced approach to longform multi-movement groove music played by a stripped down quartet of two guitars, bass and drums, synched to pre-recorded electronics and musique concrÃ¨te. The band's unique restlessness and inventiveness seduces with shifts, turns and dovetails, consistently destabilizing its own inexorable musical logic in highly satisfying fashion. Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche deploys a panoply of buoyant musical ideas, subtly sumptuous sonic treatments, and joyous stylistic nods - while remaining fundamentally devoted to working the groove from a kaleidoscope of angles. Their sound always seems to be escaping overt homage or retro tendencies; neither freighted with reverence nor weightless with irreverence, the music of Avec le soleil routes and uproots itself along its own refreshingly untrodden path. Pas pire pop, I Love You So Much is post-modern psychedelic trance-pop that sounds like no other.
RIYL: Can, Talking Heads ('80-'83), This Heat, Neu!, Stereolab, Do Make Say Think, Animal Collective, Tinariwen, Black Dice, Battles, Fly Pan Am
Automatisme is the electronic music project of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec-based producer William Jourdain, who has been self-releasing a brilliant series of albums and tracks under this moniker since 2013, exploring various intersections of drone, dub techno, electronica, ambient, electro-acoustic, and noise.
Always taking site-specific field recordings as its starting point, and with nominal reliance on synthesizers, Automatisme samples, signal bends, and transforms his source material into deliberate and elemental soundscapes of white and pink noise, spatial drone and methodically additive beats.
Momentform Accumulations compiles much of Jourdain's most recent and most rhythmically-driven work. We're very excited to be issuing this as Automatisme's first official full-length physical album release - and while Jourdain continues to pursue his studies in Art History, his practice as a painter and installation artist, and his work at Saint-Hyacinthe's excellent FrÃ©quences record store, we also anticipate diverse and fascinating future recordings from Automatisme that will stake out a multi-faceted identity for this viscerally engaged young producer. (We also urge interested ears to check out Automatisme on Bandcamp for previous recordings that similarly reveal the project's multiplicity.)
Jason Sharp has been a fixture of MontrÃ©al's experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring drone and durational music, while also collaborating in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. His work as a composer, conductor and band leader in his own right is now featured on A Boat Upon Its Blood, the first album-length recording to be released under his own name: a bracingly meditative multi-movement instrumental work that charts a highly compelling arc of shifting energies and intensities.
Using custom-built equipment to translate breath and heart rate into variegated sonic triggers, along with other modes of signal processing and in tandem with traditional instrumentation, the album features Sharp's own reed playing with contributions from a few guest musicians on pedal steel guitar, violin and various percussion.
Recorded by Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt) at the Hotel2Tango in MontrÃ©al and mixed and mastered by Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Drip Audio Records), A Boat Upon Its Blood is a genre-defying album with a highly immersive and satisfying sound palette that impels deep listening and demands to be taken in as a whole. Constellation is thrilled to present Jason Sharp as a unique and invigorating new voice in modern-contemporary music.
Celebrated Toronto-based composer, producer and songwriter Sandro Perri is one of Constellation's most long-standing and artistically diverse music-makers, known both for the pulsing, longform instrumental work released in the early 2000s as Polmo Polpo and the tropicalia-, jazz- and prog-influenced vocal music brilliantly showcased on 2011's Impossible Spaces.
Over the past couple of years Perri has been letting us in on a fascinating treasure chest of strange and enchanting collaborative recordings, which, now rounded up under the project name Off World, will begin to see release over the next few seasons. Chiefly a studio-based endeavour, the project traces its origins as far back as 2008 when Perri and fellow Torontonian Lorenz Peter began working together, now expanded to encompass collaborations with many other producers and musicians, including Drew Brown (Lower Dens, Blonde Redhead), Susumu Mukai (Zongamin), M J Silver (Mickey Moonlight), Craig Dunsmuir, Jesse Zubot and Eric Chenaux.
1 is alien electronics played humanly, with real-world accents throughout, rich in deconstructed melody, interplay between acoustic and electronic instrumentation, and pointillist and aleatory composition techniques. Off World resists easy categorization: not ambient "easy listening", not strictly "improvised", not "retro" - but eccentrically absorbing and soothingly mischievous as it charts its own sonic trails.
MontrÃ©al chamber rock ensemble Esmerine return with the new full-length album Lost Voices, the most dynamic and incendiary record of the group's career, following its highly-acclaimed and Juno award-winning 2013 release Dalmak. Led by co-founders Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) on various mallet instruments and Rebecca Foon (Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Saltland) on cello, Esmerine also includes drummer/percussionist Jamie Thompson (The Unicorns, Islands, Little Scream) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson.
Lost Voices can fairly be called Esmerine's "rock" album, expanding upon the band's celebrated prowess at deploying structure and dynamic, balancing melodic expression against methodical restraint through a diversity of stylistic touchstones while allowing for explosive crescendos of exuberant density and maximalism that most notably distinguishes this record from previous work.
Lost Voices is a deeply satisfying and evocative journey and another brilliant iteration of Esmerine's distinctive instrumental chamber rock; cerebral and visceral, controlled and volatile, and wholly cinematic in scope throughout.
Radwan Ghazi Moumneh returns with a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes MontrÃ©al and Beirut. Since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly MontrÃ©al-based live/theatrical happening, Moumneh has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East. While JIMH continues to expand to include a larger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently an immersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound/composition and filmmaker Charles-AndrÃ© Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations.
Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan's expressive acoustic playing on buzuk and zurna as a point of departure. If He Dies, If If If If If If is an adventurous, scrupulous, impassioned and highly original work of modern contemporary Arabic music and a gratifying sign that JIMH is situating itself in recorded works with the same thoughtful and dynamic intensity previously accessible only in live performances.
Ought returns with their second full-length album Sun Coming Down, following a break-out year for the MontrÃ©al quartet that saw its 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day make well-deserved waves, with a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork and appearances on countless year-end lists.
Having spent most of 2014 on the road vitalizing audiences with no-nonsense post-punk and the feverishly observational testifying of singer/guitarist Tim Darcy, Ought spent the first few months of 2015 writing, playing the occasional local gig, and eventually heading back to the studio to lay down a batch of fresh tunes.
Sun Coming Down maintains the band's tight, twitchy, economical sound. Ought pursues an artistically apposite austerity in committing these new songs to tape, referencing the arid and unvarnished production of no-wave and early indie rock while balancing carved-out angularity against an evolving comfort with textural coalescences and measured pacing. It makes for an album that's consistently, insistently propulsive but also feels unhurried and pleasantly unhyped. Sun Coming Down confirms the distinctive vitality and purposive naturalism of Ought, which resists facile primitivism and overhyped dynamics in equal measure, keeping things hermetic but never airless, ascetic but never dispassionate, literate but never prolix.
Two of Constellation's acclaimed solo instrumental artists join forces on this tremendous new album of original compositions for horn and violin.
Colin Stetson has developed a unique and highly-acclaimed voice as a performer/composer, chiefly on bass and tenor saxophones, rallying an array of technical strengths and innovations to make some of the most captivatingly organic, darkly soulful and otherworldly solo instrumental work of recent years with his New History Warfare trilogy. The solo violin work of Sarah Neufeld has emerged more recently, and especially through 2011-2014, in the period between her primary band Arcade Fire's last two albums; she's forged a distinctive and evocative solo violin practice combining rock, folk, ambient and modernist sensibilities, culminating with her debut solo album Hero Brother in 2013.
'Never were the way she was' charts an expansive sonic trajectory with a multiplicity of structures and voicings that belies the fundamental economy of two acoustic instruments combining in real time. The resulting musical chronicle powerfully establishes its own spatial and temporal horizon; Stetson and Neufeld offer up an impressively immersive integration of composition, performance, timbre and texture. 'Never were the way she was' is a sum quite definitively and thrillingly greater than its parts.
Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GYBE) returns with its first single LP-length release since the group's earliest days in 1997-99. 'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress' clocks in at a succinct 40:23 and is arguably the most focused and best-sounding recording of the band's career. Following Godspeed's return from a long hiatus at the end of 2010 to begin playing live shows again, and with the hugely acclaimed 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!' release in 2012 marking their first new release in a decade, the group slowly and steadily put the new album together through late 2013 and 2014. This mighty slab of superlative sonics is shot through with all the band's inimitable signposts and touchstones: huge unison riffage, savage noise/drone, oscillating overtones, guitar vs. string counterpoint, inexorable crescendos and scorched-earth transitions. 'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress' finds Godspeed in top form; a sterling celebration of the band's awesome dialectic, where composition, emotion and 'note-choice' is inextricable from an exacting focus on tone, timbre, resonance and the sheer materiality of sound.
Eric Chenaux has emerged as one of the most distinctive, innovative and original voices in what might be called avant-garde balladry, juxtaposing his gorgeously pure and open singing against a guitar sound and style that truly stands alone. Skullsplitter is the impressive new album that confirms Chenaux's singular aesthetic: genuine, natural, unaffected vocals gliding through slow, smoky melodies while electric and nylon-string guitars are deployed with adventurously experimental, dextrous, semi-improvisational technique and texture. Skullsplitter stands as a welcome evolution from Chenaux's previous song-based album Guitar & Voice (2012), which was widely celebrated as his best work to date, championed by The Wire, Said The Gramophone, Stereophile and others for its unique sensibility and sensitivity. Skullsplitter builds on these strengths, with Chenaux working his concise array of signal-bending devices (volume, wah and freeze pedals) with a remarkable and idiosyncratic fluidity that's integral to the expressivity he brings to the guitar, and his voice at the calm center of this stormy micro-climate of bodily kinetics and woozy playing. On Skullsplitter, Chenaux's vocals are like a high pressure system, riding on clear bright air, stabilizing the roiling, changeable atmosphere of the guitars underneath; a gem of an album in an increasingly luminous discography.