Last Ex: Last Ex
Last Ex is a new instrumental rock ensemble led by Simon Trottier and Olivier Fairfield, long active in Quebec's experimental/punk scene, though perhaps best known as core members of Timber Timbre, which spawned the Last Ex project. When Timber Timbre's ambient music for a horror film went unused back in 2012, Trottier and Fairfield began revisiting the sound palette for the soundtrack, expanding on their techniques and textures, adding drums, bass and various other instruments, writing additional songs throughout 2013 and bringing their obsessions with sound collage, tape-based music concrete and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to bear on the cinematic lyricism of the initial widescreen guitar and string-based material. With its combination of assured lyricism, cinematic guitars, dusky analog atmospherics and taut percussion, this is an instrumental rock album of superb compositional and melodic sensibility, balancing expressiveness and restraint, atmosphere and detail, bound by a highly original approach to production. Last Ex sits snugly between fellow label acts Do Make Say Think and Exhaust on the one hand, Hrsta, Tindersticks and Evangelista on the other. Fans of early Trans Am, early/mid Tortoise, Calexico and (obviously) Timbre Timber should also find this a very satisfying grower of an album.
Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche: Zubberdust!
Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche began in 2011, with bassist, singer and composer Jean-Sebastien Truchy seeking a new live ensemble to fuel his desired return to exploring the highly structured afro-kraut trance rock that was one of several stocks-in-trade during his tenure in early Constellation project and pseudo-legendary Fly Pan Am.
Avec le soleil initially formed with guitarist/engineer Sebastien Fournier and drummer Nasir Hasan; a rotating cast of additional players joined the group for live shows throughout 2012-2013, as the band gained a local reputation for irresistible and levitational live sets that combined an avant-garde/contemporary sensibility with infectiously angular, rubbery grooves. Guitarist Eric Gingras (Pas Chic Chic) emerging as a fourth core member during this period.
Avec le soleil is by now careening towards mastery of a highly original, deeply satisfying, giddy and heady avant-funk. Anchored by the brilliant bass and drum work of Truchy and Hasan, the group's music is woven with crisp stuttering guitar and keyboard lines and a continually shifting palette of electronic touches and interventions. The pair of exquisite and exhilarating 20-minute pieces (sub-divided into sections for CD and digital track IDs) featured on Zubberdust! are the culmination of the group's first two years of conceptual and somatic development.
Hiss Tracts: Shortwave Nights
Shortwave Nights is the debut album by Hiss Tracts, a new duo featuring David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Set Fire To Flames) and Kevin Doria (Growing, Total Life). The sonic preoccupations of Bryant and Doria are well-documented across many highly acclaimed recordings over the past fifteen years, from the organic, group-based, semi-improvised collage albums of Set Fire To Flames to the glimmering, immersive minimalism of Growing and the more maximalist full-spectrum noise works of Total Life. Hiss Tracts represents a compelling collaboration that opens new procedural and narrative pathways for these fine musicians to continue exploring soundscape-based composition and production. Both are guitar players, and the electric guitar figures as both recognizable and unrecognizable source instrument on Shortwave Nights, but the deployment of a wide range of additional analog sources and signals ensures that there is no confusing this for a guitar-based drone, noise or post-rock record.
Meditative and visceral, often suggestive of decayed/derelict landscapes and the humming electromagnetic atmosphere through which all manner of frequencies, transmissions and surveillances pass and collide, Shortwave Nights strikes an evocative balance between the sonics being captured-channeled-harnessed vs. composed-sculpted-performed, with an almost documentary rigour and restraint that remains profoundly charged and engaged.
Ought: More Than Any Other Day
Ought has been burning with a strong and steady flame since flickering to life in Montreal just before the inspired months of the Quebec student general strike in 2012. The mass mobilization against neo-liberal austerity measures indelibly shaped the emerging sound, vision and social mandate of Ought.
Then band's earnest, stately and exuberant post-punk is dextrous, deliberate, unfussy and fluid, with debts to Cap'n Jazz, The Feelies, Lungfish, Gang Of Four and early Talking Heads, among many others. They shift from sharp angles and stuttering counterpoint to softer edges and chiming flow, with an economy of elements and fidelity to their basic 4-piece constitution. The instrumental interplay is consistently whipsmart, supple and deceptively simple. Vocalist Tim Beeler's speak-singing can give way to melancholic melodic croons and ragged, desperate yelps, always driven by sincerity of feeling and connection to his subject matter, whether that's the conundrum of our fractured interiority or communion with others in our fractured social space (or, for the most part, both).
Ought are a righteous and humble young band, fiercely dedicated to grassroots organizing and artmaking, taking as self-evident the inseparability of politics and aesthetics; we are proud and excited to be releasing their debut full-length.
Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra: Hang On To Each Other
Following their acclaimed Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything released in January, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra dust off an old chesnut from their 2005 album Horses In The Sky and coat it in glitter and shards of glass; not remixes really, but brand new recordings that use set-closing live favourite "Hang On To Each Other" as a launching point for some rather glorious dancefloor excursions.
Carla Bozulich: Boy
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 ? and should serve as a welcome reminder ? of Bozulich's unique tastes, talents and trajectories.
Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra: Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra (SMZ) has traced a barbed-wire arc of genre-defying protest music, through seven albums , since its inception in 1999. SMZ has recently pared back to five players, with Menuck's massive spectrum-spanning electric guitar sound emerging as the spine around which two violins, bass (now more often electric than acoustic) and drums are supported and deployed. Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is the first definitive document of the band's newfound sound and style as a quintet. The album centerpiece "Austerity Blues" with its closing lyric "Lord let my son live long enough to see that mountain torn down" sung in varying incarnations throughout the second half of this 14-minute epic, encapsulates Menuck's unflinching take on a world replete with shabbiness, greed and injustice, seen through the lens of parenthood, mortality, endurance and defiance. Feel-good music this is not; but neither can it reductively be tagged apocalyptic or world-weary. Fuck Off Get Free rages with scorn and with hope, utterly passionate but pointedly unromantic. Thee Silver Mt. Zion once again demonstrates, like few other bands working today, that there is much to fight against, much to fight for, and plenty more fight songs to sing.
Do Make Say Think: Do Make Say Think
Do Make Say Think self-recorded its self-titled debut album in Toronto in 1996-1997 and self-released the record on CD. It made its way to Constellation's stereo in spring 1998, just as the label was getting off the ground. Constellation re-released the album in more elaborate bespoke CD packaging in 1999 and Do Make Say Think became the label's fifth release.
This terrific debut remained one of the very few titles on Constellation that was never issued on vinyl, as the label's limited resources in the early years conspired against a 2xLP pressing at the time. This historical aberration is now being remedied by a lovely deluxe double 180-gram edition of the album, with the CD's unique window-cut artwork and packaging translated to glorious 12-inch dimensions.
One of the first groups to define a newly genre-blending aesthetics and collective/collaborative ethics of (post-) rock experimentation in the Toronto scene, Do Make Say Think has released a superb, dynamic and continually inventive series of instrumental rock albums since their auspicious debut.To commemorate the 15th anniversary of Constellation's 1998 release of the debut CD ? we couldn't be prouder to present Do Make Say Think on vinyl for the first time.
Sandro Perri: Spaced Out
The final set of remixes from Perri’s critically acclaimed impossible spaces album, following previous EPs on DFA AND Phonica. Featuring remixes by Larry Gus (DFA, Lefse), Le Révélateur (Root Strata) and Imugem Orihasam (FRAGIL).
While Sandro Perri's acclaimed and meticulously constructed album Impossible Spaces was a decidedly avant-rock affair conjured from guitar, bass, drums, synth and voice (with flourishes of woodwinds and brass), longtime fans of Perri will also be familiar with his deep roots in electronic music, chiefly via his Polmo Polpo project from the early 2000s. So it was natural for him to tap friends and peers for remixes of the Impossible Spaces material. This yielded an embarrassment of remix riches, spread across a series of three EPs, of which Spaced Out is the third and final installment (following 2012 releases on the DFA and Phonica labels).
We're thrilled to wrap up these Impossible Spaces remixes in a final installment; Spaced Out provides an intense, diverse and richly detailed 22-minute journey that wildly re-imagines the original album across three distinct pieces, each of which remains true to Perri's core aesthetics in uniquely additive fashion.
Land Of Kush: The Big Mango
Following several visits to the city over the years, Osama (Sam) Shalabi moved to Cairo in 2011, arriving at an apartment one block from Tahrir Square, in the midst of Egypt's 'Arab Spring'. Shalabi describes The Big Mango, his new and phenomenal work for his Land Of Kush big-band, as "a love letter to Cairo" framed by "the beautiful, surreal madness of the city?as joyous, horrific, historical events were unfolding".
The opening six minutes, a slowly brewing stew of free-improvised instrumentation, electronics, wordless vocalizations and oblique sexuality/sensuality, are an inimitable destabilizing strategy of Shalabi's that serves to introduce most of the instrumental voices and the montage of genres that will form the rest of the work, while also invoking the album's deeper conceptual preoccupations: gender, sexuality and the status of women as a culture unleashes seismic/revolutionary energies with the real possibility of attendant shifts in civil society and political structure.
In combination with the peaking intensity and electricity of Shalabi's compositional vision, The Big Mango coheres, sparkles and soars: a distillation of the sonic trajectory Land Of Kush has been charting for the past five years.
Matana Roberts: Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile
COIN COIN Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile is the much-anticipated new installment of Matana Roberts' unique and forward-looking project and it finds Roberts conjuring some of the most nuanced, thoughtful and substantial American liberation music of the 21st century.
Mississippi Moonchile was developed for an intimately woven New York jazz sextet and represents the next leap forward in Roberts' iconoclastic and complex project of memory and recuperation, where historical and contemporary musical tropes, fragmentary spoken and sung narratives, and Matana's cascading alto saxophone are supported by prodigiously talented players.
Chapter Two unfolds as a cohesive album-length piece, playing with notions of dignity, rarefaction and restraint. The six players are in a perpetual motion of coalescence and divergence, where melodic themes, occasional ostinato passages, and variously deployed literal voices serve to rally the overriding theme of individual narratives and personal expressions as struggles with, celebrations of and threads within collective history. The contortions of empowerment, pride, shame, suffering, eulogy, empathy, liberation and transcendence are Matana's raw material in the broadest and most specific senses; she has given this raw material another beautiful and compelling shape in the second chapter of the COIN COIN story.
When Esmerine surfaced with La Lechuza in 2011, the album signaled many things: the band's first new recordings in six years, an expanded line-up, and a song cycle inspired by and dedicated to the life and untimely death of a dear friend and fellow musician.
Esmerine's new album Dalmak emphatically confirms that the group has continued writing, exploring and collaborating. Bruce Cawdron (ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and cellist Rebecca Foon (Silver Mt. Zion, Set Fire To Flames), brought in percussionist Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Islands) and multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson as full-time members.
European tours in 2011-2012 brought Esmerine to Istanbul, and Dalmak is the fruit of that visit: the majority of the album was recorded in Istanbul, where the band's four Canadian musicians were joined by an equal number of Turkish guest players.
“Dalmak” is a Turkish verb with many connotations: to contemplate, to be absorbed in, to dive into, to bathe in, to rush into, to plummet. As album title, “dalmak” refers in a literal sense to immersion in the culture and music of Istanbul but also appropriately evokes the range of music that emerged: a collection of songs that shift between meditative pulsing and enveloping restraint to headlong flights into rhythm and groove.
Sarah Neufeld: Hero Brother
Sarah Neufeld is a violinist and composer based in Montréal, Canada. Best known as a member of Arcade Fire, she is also a founding member of the acclaimed contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre and has performed and recorded with many other groups, including The Luyas, Esmerine and Little Scream.
Neufeld began developing pieces for solo violin in a more formal and focused sense in 2011, though she has made improvisation and solo composition part of her process and practice since first picking up the instrument at a young age, counting Bartok, Reich, Bittova and Arthur Russell among her formative influences.
Hero Brother was recorded in Berlin by pianist and producer Nils Frahm, who captures Neufeld's performances in a number of locations with site-specific acoustics, including an abandoned geodesic dome, an underground parking garage, and the legendary Studio P4 orchestral recording hall at the broadcast complex of the former GDR. Frahm also plays on two of the album’s tracks.
The record as a whole unfolds as a transporting, coherent and engagingly idiosyncratic soundtrack of solo violin music, teeming with diverse timbres, techniques, ambiences and evocations.
Saltland: I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us
Saltland is the new project led by Montreal-based cellist Rebecca Foon (Esmerine, ex-Silver Mt. Zion), joined by Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Esmerine) on miniature percussion, programming and signal processing.
I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us is a beautifully restrained debut album that telescopes the directness and delicacy 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 serene utopic reveries and downcast dystopic horizons, and the search for soft, stoic strength in a darkening world, in most cases propelled by Thompson's handmade percussion and understated programming/processing.
The album's ambience also owes much to the work of Mark Lawson, the award-winning producer (Arcade Fire) who collaborated closely with Foon to record and mix these songs. 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 a unique space where minimalism, shoegaze, dream-pop, coldwave, chamber music, drone and ambient/electronic coexist and coalesce.
Colin Stetson: New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light
Colin Stetson established himself as an intensely original solo composer and performer in 2011 with the release of the widely acclaimed New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges, which ended up on countless year-end lists. Anyone who has seen Stetson in solo performance can attest to the stunning physicality of his circular-breathing technique and capacity to produce a seemingly impossible palate of multiple voicings simultaneously in real time.
New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light is the final installment in a trilogy of solo albums, again recorded live in single takes and again mixed by groundbreaking producer Ben Frost. Colin's membership in Bon Iver has also led to vocal contributions from Justin Vernon for this record, who appears on four songs, and whose voice constitutes the only overdubbing on the album.
New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light is the most cohesive and fully realized of Stetson's solo albums to date. It should reliably stand as the apotheosis of the New History Warfare trilogy, and certainly signals the full flourishing of Stetson's unique talents as both composer and performer, pressing his arsenal of virtuosic techniques into the service of vivid, impassioned and conceptually astute songcraft.