Linda Catlin Smith on Another Stamp

Linda catlin smith

vagabond

Apartment House and Bozzini Quartet

Another Stamp at 105X2

Born in the United States and residing in Canada for over a quarter of a century, Linda catlin smith has become a staple on this country’s cultural radar. She was greeted and feted as one of the Canadian women. For example, she is only the second woman to win the Jules Léger Prize for Chamber Music and has a long association with the ArrayMusic ensemble, of which she was artistic director. Several recordings of his music have been released, but last year Dirt road won its critical praise and belated review in the United States, ending up on many reviewers’ “best of the year” lists (including mine). Posted by Another Timbre, Dirt road was just a taste of this label’s commitment to Canadian music. Another stamp recently released a set of five recordings in their Canadian Composers series (another set of five is expected later this year). Catlin Smith figures prominently, with the double disc vagabond serving as volume 1 in the series. Other composers include Martin Arnold, Isiah Ceccarelli, Chlyoko Szlavnics, and Marc Sabat.

Drifter program is executed by two groups of rooms: Apartment House and Bozzini Quartet. The “drift” in question is not the itinerant hitchhiking, but rather the calm tempo routes frequently chosen by Catlin Smith. The piano trio Far from the shore, played here by Philip Thomas, Anton Lukiszevieze and Mira Benjamin, is an example. Slow and smooth music for the trio, often reminiscent of Morton Feldman’s approach (one Catlin Smith recognizes as a distinctive influence on his work) alongside passages of colorful piano chords. The spectrum passes from inexorably repeated constrained sets of pitches, to chromatic counterpoint, to whole washes of sound. The intuitive sensitivity that Catlin Smith claims as his approach in preference to any dogmatic systematization clearly allows him to move on an ever-changing musical terrain, while retaining an organic sense of each piece. How does she deal with this? An interview in the booklet accompanying the ensemble of Canadian composers quotes her as: “Listening. Lots of listening. You could do worse as a songwriter in any style of listening as intently as Catlin Smith does.

Cantelina (2013) for viola and vibraphone, played by Emma Richards and Simon Limbrick, presents another interest of the composer, that of heterogeneous instrumental chords. Here and in the Quintet with piano (2014), another of Catlin Smith’s predilections, exploring a closely related counterpoint in close register positions, is presented. The overlap in Cantilena is quite appealing (it’s a combination that should be explored by more composers and one that I’ll keep in my hip pocket) and it also affects when written roughly in the quintet. The title work is also for a seemingly difficult combination, piano and classical guitar, performed by Philippe thomas and Diego Castro Magazine, but Catlin Smith’s soft touches of coloristic harmony and uneven ostinatos also work wonderfully in this duo setting. My Who Trembled (1999), played by Thomas, Benjamin and Limbrick, has a pulse piano part which is joined by a sustained violin and bowed percussion. An interesting notation device is used: rather than writing down all the notes and rhythms, the composer specifies that the musicians silently read a poem by Rimbaud and use his rhythms of speech to shape the musical work (for example, the percussionist draws his attack points from stressed French syllables).

Bozzini Quartet appears in two string quartets by Catlin Smith. Folkestone (1999) pits a persistent violin line against articulated, syncopated slow chord blocks played by the other three members (these have an almost accordion quality in their spacing). Gradually, other lines emerge from the texture, the cello playing a poignant solo dissonant with the rest of the harmony. The chord passages begin to disperse, bringing the place of activity closer to the sustained sound of the violin. flautando melody. The mid-register lines now break free and the chords move in double time for a brief stretch before giving way to widely spaced and slowly articulated harmonies again. This alternation of patterns includes still other elements to introduce: pizzicatos, duets, flashes of brilliance in harmonic fourths and a bass melody for cello made really heavy by the registers against which it was balanced before. Check-in over 32 minutes, Folkestone is a substantial and utterly captivating composition. Gondola involves quartet members coming in and out in unison and a gentle rocking boat rhythm that Catlin Smith describes as: in the water. “

Evocative images for a truly evocative musical creation. vagabond is an album (a double album moreover) to be savored.


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Review: Timber Timbre tackles the madness of 2016

2016 was the year of the unexpected. Frank Ocean came out of the desert. Brangelina broke up. Donald Trump won the election. Timber Timbre is inspired by these bizarre turns Sincerely, Future Pollution, a melancholy but satisfying prediction of the future.

“2016 was a very difficult time to watch,” lead singer Taylor Kirk said in the album announcement. “I hate to admit that I normally express more sensitivity than political concern, but I think the tone and the result on the record is absolute chaos and confusion. When we were recording, the premonition was that the events we saw unfold were an elaborate hoax. But the mockery of our food system has spawned a lot of dark and dystopian thoughts and ideas. And then it all happened, while everyone was on Instagram. The sewers overflowed.

Interestingly, the opening track, “Velvet Gloves & Spit” provides no prelude to the angst of the rest of the release, choosing instead a sophisticated composition of reed instruments and layered rhythms. The song still maintains the album’s urgent message but departs from the main style of the release as Kirk’s powerful voice is used strategically to evoke some positivity.

Judging by the title of the album, it’s clear the band want their listeners to pay more attention to their world. Otherwise, desperation is imminent. Sincerely, Future Pollution is a dismal twist on folk rock music whose eerie instrumentals capture the dark themes of the release. “It’s all fleshed out, fleshed out and forgotten now,” Kirk sings on “Sewer Blues,” highlighting the regret his listeners presumably felt when they saw the consequences of political apathy come into play.

A multitude of strange juxtapositions are present in the lyrics of the group. Fuzzy bass guitars season Kirk’s voice, as the band come together to maliciously perform desperate harmonies. The group presents a jazzy soul and refreshing rhythm on “Bleu Nuit”, which manages to stand out on such an atmospheric album with a robotic effect used on vocals. Kirk utters such dismal lyrics to amplify their effect, scaring his listeners with every serious word.

Songs like “Western Questions” show ambition with an impressive, reverberating guitar solo that allows the track to quickly transition from feelings of true depression to cautious youth.

Timber Timbre’s music oscillates between bloody, free-spirited psychedelic pop and dark, twisted Gothic rock. Sometimes the structure of the music seems to be derived from well-known rock bands of the 1970s, borrowing the swinging funk of Electric Light Orchestra on tracks like “Grifting”, while mimicking the futuristic and heavily synthesized arrangements of Pink Floyd. The dark side of the moon for the majority of the 40 minute outing.

Each song finds its own identity, following a musical structure that incorporates its own playful decomposition. “Skin Tone” is a sharp display of sweet but sinister music. A variety of synths come together to form a sweet and lovely melody.

The band, known for their dreary, sometimes even ominous sound, have always shown a willingness to step into uncharted musical territory, but some moments on this album are familiar. Kirk’s husky voice, sounding like a cross between Edward Sharpe and Andrew VanWyngarden, contributes to the downtempo of the album’s emotional track. In its most flattering moments, it’s complimentary, even entertaining, and at worst, it’s slow, stopping the ardor behind the music. However, Sincerely, Future Pollution is an impressive example of the band’s refined talent in creating depressing yet very lively music.


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Album review: Timber Timbre – Regards, Future Pollution / Releases / Releases // Drowned in sound

Montreal, Canada quartet Wood stamp have been quietly perfecting their craft for over a decade now. The Quebec group has always been notoriously elusive, often categorized as “something between blues and folk,” but they’ve always been surprisingly original and perhaps more importantly, cinematic. This has been shown from their soundtrack work over the years, featuring on breaking Bad and The good woman, besides having a few Polaris Prize nominations to boot, but they never really succeeded outside of their native Canada.

Whether this is their sixth album Sincerely, Future Pollution The answer to that remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt the cold confidence that comes from the sound of Timber Timbre at this point. Truly… is an odd record in that it looks like a relic from an earlier era, using 80s synths and drum machines, the industrialism of Nine Inch Nails’ debut on the album’s title track and structures and references to almost Lynchian songs, but his post is very relevant to 2017: “Sewers overflowed, as everyone was on Instagram“.

Despite its false pastiche, Truly… is a angry album. This may in part seem like a novelty in his use of lounge jazz (“Floating Cathedral”), but singer Taylor Kirk’s poetic, mostly spoken performance shows how our generation might let our societal decline happen. It’s fascinating how quickly North Americans reacted to America’s populist shift to the right – Father John Misty’s new album Pure comedy promises pretty much the same – as if there were a few musicians and performers who saw it coming a mile and a half away. Back then, we used punk music as an outlet to challenge these societal declines, but punk no longer has quite the same strength it once had in a broader public perspective.

Instead, appropriately enough, we have a post-modern take on a genre and style made famous during one of America’s most conservative eras, Reagan’s’ 80s. The beautifully sensual “Western Questions” sums up this rage masked as a tribute perfectly, as Kirk wonders how a hideous campaign could quite take place in Western society these days, eager to “Mud to enter”.

Not all on Truly… is just as overtly angry as this song, but the entire album is bathed in a dark, seedy undertow in its revisionist synths and cinematic reach. The ‘Velvet Gloves & Spit’ opener, for example, is a beautifully touching piece, but as the title suggests, the beauty of a pair of Velvet Gloves alongside the spit image suggests that all is not not just in the world created here.

In fgeneral, Truly… feels distinctly familiar, but it’s an uncomfortable familiarity, a warning that there is an obscurity that points to the past (thematically, anyway). Everything does not quite work; as fun as the deceptively optimistic “Grifting” is, it’s a bit too close to David Bowie’s “Fame” to really go unnoticed. That said, it doesn’t seem out of place in this album’s sinister use of drifting touches and grooves over its 40 minutes of runtime, and for that matter, if Kirk longs for someone in his performance, Bowie is a pretty high benchmark from which to press.

Musically, Truly… is full of interesting little flourishes and unexpected twists that, as mentioned above, are reminiscent of a David Lynch movie. Drummer Olivier Fairfield intentionally underestimates his hand, weaving in funky embellishments here and there without ever exaggerating the mark, while bass dutifully follows. ‘Moment’, for example, after a few minutes of rather breezy opening, suddenly becomes a guitar monster, however, it doesn’t take center stage on the rhythm section, which simply and grimly keeps its rhythm.

Kirk is an attractive singer and lyricist, posing puzzles before undermining them with their sad and inevitable conclusions; neither does its performance reach upper territory, instead inviting the listener to the dystopian world the group has created. ‘Sewer Blues’ is at the album’s dark heart and sees Kirk at his saddest, with the creepy chorus “I will come back to you / I will come back through you” channel his inner Nick Cave.

In the instrumental moments of the album, we have a vision of Ridley Scott Blade runner, a film that will take place in just two years and set in a dystopian metropolitan nightmare, much like the artwork for the album. There is surely a lot to be said over the next few years as we come to understand them in North American and hopefully British music in relation to the political advances in each region. Here, Canadians still too close for comfort look at themselves and just across the border, and predict an all-too-possible nightmare scenario. How prophetic it will remain to be seen, but this 2017 take on ’80s cinematic synth-pop is an unexpected joy in which to savor the looming political mud that approaches.

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