The Uncoverables Podcast: Jennifer Thiessen and Ida Toninato Interview

Local Montreal Improvisers Jennifer Thiessen and Ida Toninato discuss musical identity, the strange sound of the Viola D’Amore, and their new album The Space Between Us out now on Ambiances Magnetiques records.

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SiR-November: ALBUM REVIEW

TDE signs responsibly and SiR is no exception.  When he locks in, he really nails it, conjuring a classy, balmy R&B sound that tosses pitched up sample and breathy trumpets into a more electronically induced rhythm section–exactly what modern listeners are itching for.  November sees some immediate success with the heart of the project hitting from tracks three to five.  The backside tapers off a little bit with some overly sluggish material, but there’s a place for SiR in the top-tier if he continues to grow.

Something Foreign, D’Evils, Something New–one of the smoothest trios of tracks in recent memory.  On the former, a lilting piano line smokes throughout as SiR begins rapping, eventually leading up to that huge falsetto moment: “tryin to keep it humble in a world full of egos, gangster and evil.”  D’Evils sees a bouncy beat and a sly sample, before Something New delivers another smoldering chorus toting offering from similarly bred Etta Jones.

Part of what makes SiR great proves to be his downfall on the project’s weaker moments. He delivers so far back on the beat it’s ridiculous and that mellow attitude eventually proves to be a hindrance.  “Better” taps into SiR’s emotional strengths as he sings completely openly about a past love interest: “she just wanted to love me.”  In the outro, a robotic voice asks if he really wants to delete this transmission.  In an age where the difference between our text drafts and our finished messages tends to be drastic, this strikes an especially relatable chord.

Unfortunately, this is a bit stifled by his excessive moodiness.  The drum beat that opens is super slow and open and SiR’s effected voice barely reaches beyond a whisper.  He maybe reaches a bit out of his comfort zone when he delivers “just wanted to love me,” but one line doesn’t make a great chorus.

Save these overly laid-back moments, SiR oozes potential.  Give him time and that trio of brilliance will turn into a whole album.

7/10

Hanna Benn-Unfasten EP

A glance at Hanna Benn’s resume wouldn’t necessarily lead one in any specific direction in terms of genre or sound–she’s touched upon in basically everything this side of 1900 including Alice Coltrane, Gospel, and a five hour immersive opera experience (no, not Einstein on the Beach).  Somehow, however, all these experiences seem to come into play on the densely packed Unfasten EP.

The work holds somewhat of an enveloping, ambient connotation, yet rhythm is very much part of the equation–most obviously on Divide: Sing Persist which features layers of hand-percussion, but even the more meditative moments find a sense of propulsion with flourishing vocal cornucopias.  

Although the influences are steeped in a bit of an academic connotation, her soundcloud hashtag of #classicalcrossover certainly holds truth.  The rhythmic drive doesn’t test the patience too ferociously and the electronic music nods also help satisfy the more college radio-oriented ear drums.  The end of the EP truly epitomizes this wide reaching array of appeal as light and airy strings complement a kelly lee owens style bass line, with Benn’s smoldering voice piercing the middle ground.

Benn’s done it all and the Unfasten EP is a testament to her ability to step into a new lane, with a new timeline and audience while also carrying those experiences with her. Most importantly, it feels effortless–a rare talent, not to be understated.

7.5/10

Soren Roi-Hand Dug Borehole: ALBUM REVIEW

Having seen Soren Roi play Montreal last weekend, their live work emphasizes a quick, violent collection of textures.  Percussive layers pile up on one another, crafting a dark, kaleidoscopic terrain of ever-shifting shapes and static.  On occasion, a filter sucks all the excess noise out of the room to re-articulate the dark, primitive energy that underpins any noisy melodic units that may appear.

Hand Dug Borehole sees a solid, quick collection of this spirit with a slightly more subdued execution, appropriate for more casual home listening than their revved up live energy. Mandorla opens with electric whips highlighting the lightly punchy low-end, a blow torch of static eventually coming in to cake the soundscape in fuzzy intensity. Odg slows down a bit as snare and bass cathartically flirt, accompanied by ominous high-end drones.  The energy picks up a bit at the end with swomp jumping into a more hyper-intensive tempo and The Benefits of Doubt seeing more anger in the direct and mean bass line.

Soren Roi was a bit more exciting in the live setting and thinking of the likes of Clark or Blanck Mass, the songwriting doesn’t necessarily reach into a territory unmarked, but these five tracks each offer a unique blend of noise and techno-induced drive–a worthy start to the year in underground electronics.

7/10

Sidney Gish-No Dogs Allowed: ALBUM REVIEW

Seeing coverage from NPR, The Fader, and Stereogum not two weeks into 2018–and her new album’s lifespan–Sidney Gish promises to explode.  No Dogs Allowed’s reception is earned though, showcasing masterful songwriting and playful disposition.  Her consciousness flows in monotonously perfect melody as jagged guitars float above a foundation of diy/classroom sounds.  Sometimes the songs fall a bit too heavily into the posh npr pop aesthetic with melodies a bit ham-fisted (i.e. I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance) but charm seeps from the project’s pores, indicating a great-deal of success to come.

The album is a testament to polarizing youth.  Opening with “Sin Triangle,” Gish depicts herself torn between wanting to go out, wanting to stay in, or perhaps wanting some sort of disease rather than this inner strife.  She knows her bad habits but no way to absolve them; wants affirmation but she’s “not a lot like you” or her peers. Between her deep dive on the pronunciation of Persephone and her toying with the idea of life as a dog, Gish stands out in a crowd.  Yet, relatability reigns throughout in her depiction of the terrifying period in life where we have to define who we are.

7/10

Jeff Rosenstock-POST ALBUM REVIEW

“We’re never gonna let them win” he yelps into his sluggish eleven-minute long closer.  Jeff Rosenstock is the man you want to root for.  His orchestral pop-punk stylings aren’t going to rule the airwaves in 2018 and for music fans like me they may not warrant a million listens–I mean outside of pixar a line like “I can’t play piano all that well/Like, I’m fine/I can get away with it” can’t have THAT much lasting value. 

Yet, his barreling ambition and raw emotion certainly make his work worth keeping up with.   On 2016’s “Worry,” Rosenstock’s anxiety was the main point of rumination, but his arrangements suffered from a bit too much emphasis on the ORCHESTRAL.  “Post” keeps things focussed on sprawling rock with his trademark urgency again spilling his guts.  Punks grow up and start backing things up on their hard-drives, but Post sees Rosenstock sticking to his guns, recording in a week, and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

7/10

Charli XCX-Pop 2 ALBUM REVIEW

Hey, so I know this blog is my weird “I only do this when I’m bored” project but I’ll post some old album reviews and new ones and my year end list.  If you enjoy reading somehow even though I disappear for months at a time that’s cool.

Walking her usual dangerous line of unabashed artificiality, Charli XCX finds non-stop success on Pop 2.  XCX’s perfect relationship with the PC music crowd has never felt this good for this long as her deeply autotuned heartache finds equal footing against the violent cotton-candy stuffiness of the highly bangable b-side.  The mixtape category reigns most true when XCX takes a backseat to her usual eclectic collaborative crew.  I Got it sees XCX on hook duty between spiked verses from Cupcakke and Brooke Candy; Mykki Blanco scorches on her verse besides Femmebot’s lightning inducing hook.

The moment that perhaps puts the whole project in focus comes when the spell is utterly broken on “Delicious.”  The driving tempo collapses, a distant radio hearkens back to the “Boom Clap” days while vibration indicates an incoming call.  Without losing her virtuosic hook-writing, Charli has truly killed off her former self.  Pop 2 is a new world that’s not entirely comfortable for all of us but Charli XCX charges up her batteries with ease and sets her sights on the tron-like neon violence of the future.

8/10