Friday, March 11, 2011

An affecting 'single effect.'

From Merriam Webster:

en·sem·ble noun \än-ˈsäm-bəl, äⁿ-\ : a group producing a single effect

Sprung from the mind and pen of one Olivier Alary (London ex-pat, now resident of Montreal), and performed by a group of musicians fittingly called Ensemble, Excerpts displays the magic that can come from the efforts of many focused on one single aim.

That aim?

Beautiful music.

Excerpts is front-to-back gorgeous, playing like a blissful dream [I had thought of referring to it as a 'fugue' but it turns out that's a disturbed state of consciousness, and not something altogether pleasant] that you won't want to wake from.

Amongst his collaborators, Aliary is most capably assisted by vocalist Darcy Conroy, whose voice is the first heard on "Things I Forget," which follows the instrumental "Opening" (a track that bears a similarity to an orchestra warming up, but in a more unified, purposeful way). The pizzicato violin that pushes the song forward is in marked contrast to Conroy's gauzy, melancholic delivery, creating a strong tension that draws listeners in. Once in, you won't want to come out.

The mixture of folk, classical and post-rock elements in the compositions (they seem to be weightier than 'songs') are meant to invoke some of the trippier folk recordings of the '60s an '70s according to Aliary and it certainly brings to mind artists like Jay Bolotin, Rodriguez and Vashti Bunyan, but Excerpts' inclusion of orchestrated elements pushes it outside any boundaries those might have established in their musical exploration.

Here's the understated and lovely video for album closer "Before Night"

And you can listen to the title track below:

Find more artists like ensemble at Myspace Music

Be sure to check out their Facebook or Myspace pages since their website is a bit of a work in progress.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Some of my favourite body parts...

I know that February is the shortest month, and it flies by really quickly, but that's really no excuse for not updating Ear To The Sound since February 4th. Things have been crazy at the station as the large portion of our renovation project was completed and we moved back into our offices and broadcast booth. Unpacked LOTS of CDs that had been boxed up and re-organized our library on our beautiful new shelves.

But while I may have been dealing with a lot of old albums in the past weeks, there's still been time for more recent music so there are some impending ETTS pieces about great new music to listen to. First up is Toronto quintet Hands & Teeth. This pop act released a fantastic EP late last year and are starting to spread it far and wide with the help of the fine folks at Audio Blood.

"Missing" isn't on the Enjoy Your Lifestyle EP, but the video is from the ever-reliable Southern Souls and shows Hands & Teeth's live chops and demonstrates that their songs hold up in an acoustic treatment (which is a departure from the lushly produced EP).

HANDS & TEETH - Missing from Mitch Fillion ( on Vimeo.

Over the course of just five songs, Hands & Teeth manage to deliver a lot while still suggesting there is more great music on the horizon. Boy/girl harmonies, layered, shimmering guitars, and atmospheric mixes that are all in service of tunes (i.e. melodies worth humming) will leave you hitting repeat on your iPod, willing the EP to last longer than its brief but weighty 22 minutes.

Take a listen to "Until The Night" and then head over to Bandcamp and download Enjoy Your Lifestyle. If you're still into things like Myspace pages just click on the link.

Find more artists like Hands & Teeth at Myspace Music

Thanks for reading, now start listening...