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.
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.
Jason Sharp has been a fixture of MontrĂ©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 MontrĂ©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.
The second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran MontrĂ©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.
A full decade ago, Godspeed You! Black Emperor released Yanqui U.X.O. with no publicity or press availability, no marketing plans, no cross-promotions or brand synergies, driven by word-of-mouth from a passionate and committed fanbase galvanized by the group's sonic vision and its dedication to unmediated, unsullied musical communication.
To suggest that such simple principles and goals have become harder to maintain and enact a decade later is an understatement, but Godspeed is looking to try all the same. The band wants people to care about this new album, without telling people they should, knowing full well that these days, anti-strategy risks being tagged as a strategy.
The band has been blazing its own path again since 2010. We think they have made a new record that maintains if not exceeds the standards of their previous work. After almost two years of post-hiatus practicing, playing and touring, Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! delivers two mighty sides of music that are definitively stunning, immersive and utterly true to the band’s legacy. The future looks dark indeed, but on the evidence of this new recording, Godspeed appears wholly committed to staring it down, channeling it, and fighting for some rays of sound (and flickers of light) that feel hopeful and true.
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.
Carla Bozulich, an art-punk heroine with almost three decades of exceptional, iconoclastic musical activity under her belt, returns with the third record of her storied career to be issued in her own name. Boy is Carla's self-proclaimed "pop record" and is a refreshing and much-needed reminder of what pop can mean in the hands of a ferociously commanding singer/lyricist who has cut her teeth on genre-bending, genre-blending, and DIY production for 25 years. Boy is unmistakably a pop-influenced album by way of punk, avant rock and lo/mid-fi; a batch of ten songs that clock in at 3-5 minutes each, mostly hewing to recognizable structures of verse, chorus and bridge, but full of destabilizing accents and strategies. The songs are replete with hooks and melodies, delivered chiefly by the singing itself, with the underlying instrumentation and arrangements always in the service of Carla's voice and lyrics.
Boy is without doubt the sharpest, supplest, most satisfying and most generous album that Bozulich has made in recent years, and also happens to be one of her most immediately accessible. It is a definitive expression â€“ and should serve as a welcome reminder â€“ of Bozulich's unique tastes, talents and trajectories.
Les Momies De Palerme is the Montreal-based duo of Marie Davidson (violin, synths, vocals) and Xarah Dion (synths, vocals). BrĂ»lez ce coeur is the first official full-length from the group, who create an uncategorisable sound built up from a core of keyboards, processed violin and voices: slow-paced without being ponderous; synthetic without being retro; methodically restrained and strangely devotional without being easily tagged as ethereal or gothic. BrĂ»lez ce coeur is often like an ersatz sacred music: canticles on acid, full of strange quirks and avant sounds while remaining soothing, meditative and incantatory.
Recorded at David Bryant's (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire To Flames) studio The Pines in Montreal, BrĂ»lez ce coeur takes advantage of the fantastic acoustics of this space and Bryant's fine collection of spring and plate reverbs.
BrĂ»lez ce Coeur was originally released as part of Constellation's Musique Fragile Vol. 01, a three-album collection of recordings by new artists in an elaborately-packaged limited edition box set. Now available as a stand-alone CD release, the album comes in a beautiful 4-colour screenprinted jacket with artwork by Jacinthe Loranger.
Bush Lady is the only recording ever made by Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki First Nations and best known as one of Canada's most accomplished and decorated documentary filmmakers. Less well known is that Obomsawin began her artistic career as a singer-songwriter in the 1960s, part of a broad movement of Indigenous artists from across North America rallying in new assertions of cultural consciousness, political rights, and reckonings with oppressive colonial history. She was invited by Folkways to perform at Town Hall in New York City in the early 1960s and spent that decade primarily identifying as a singer, channeling traditional songs hand-in-hand with modern composition. Twenty years later, amidst her burgeoning film career, Bush Lady was born of sessions sponsored by CBC Radio in 1984. Unsatisfied with these recordings, Obomsawin reclaimed the master tapes, remade the album, and issued it on her own private press in 1988. This unique, profound, magical record has been out of print and gaining cult status ever since. Constellation is honoured to be working with this legendary Canadian cultural icon to issue a newly remastered version of Bush Lady on audiophile 180gram vinyl - and for the first time on CD.