On her new Surrender EP, Montreal’s Alexia Avina creates sweeping vocal loops that feel like soft branches fluttering their fresh, raw buds. A bedroom pop album inspired by emotional floods and the vulnerability of starting again, the delicate 5-track EP was recorded in bursts using a Boss RC-50 loop station. With light synth bells used as punctuation, francophone samples, low-key guitar melodies, and Avina’s angelic, airy vocals, this is an album for morning meditations, basking in the sun, feeling the grass tickle the back of your legs, staring up at nothing at all.
Best Tracks: who will go out with a friend and thought we would stay
Check out the music video for if i’m the one that you need by Miriam Brellenthin.
Montreal’s Régis Victor’s Dix-sept titres de la République du Civou is unlike anything I’ve heard before. Split into two halves, face jaune et face bleue, the album stabs its way through a musique concrète jungle in the dark, poking glittering eyes with a heated sword.
The album opens with Zinc, a discordant argument between rattling percussion and ascending flute shepard tones (the ascending staircase illusion of music). Saxophones and infrequent piano notes attempt to moderate, but the flute and skins are persistently stubborn.
On Doug, wooden mallets smash with abandon; warbling, hesitant synths dips their toes into far waters only to slink away behind black trees. The caucophony is punctured by the descent of glassy bells, droning racecar zoom of samples, and grumbling assorted vocal snippets.
Halfway through each song, the elements shift like slithering snakes, coiling under roots and becoming unrecognizable—on Lampagisto, pleading synths submit to nimble, choppy fingers plucking a detuned guitar, while rough, almost obnoxious flutes bleat insistently.
When vocals do appear on Isosceles Not A Centipede, they sit removed and docile behind a strange sound that reminds me of a rubberized machine.
The album’s first half—face jaune—is urgent, anxious, confusing, yet confident. It drills and drives towards the album’s second half—face bleue—which carries a deferential playfulness, drawing more from electronic instrumentation than the wild acoustics of the former.
Refreshingly abrasive and unforgivingly complex, Dix-sept titres de la République du Civou is a palate cleanser.
Ebullient, springy, and youthful, Palm Isle EP is the debut release from Montreal experimental pop artist Max T. The project of Max Taeuschel, who’s done music videos for Look Vibrant and Ought, Palm Isle grins with tropical precociousness, featuring rippling percussion, cascading bells, and stacked vocal harmonies that soothe like a hammock strapped between tangerine palms. Add to the soundtrack for planning the vacation you can’t afford.
Dipping into evil yé-yé territory, Julien Sagot’s Bleu Jane is too warm to be cold wave, too brisk to be franco-folk. France Gall might sneak into a dark alley to listen to this album without telling her parents. Julien’s low-slung chanson vocals crouch atop argumentative, end-of-the-hallway synths, fiery violins, sour piano flourishes, and attic drum machines.
Best Tracks: Les sentiers de terre,Bleu Jane, and Désordre et désordre
Fans of Sarah Davachi will appreciate the hypnotic beauty of Montreal’s Sarah Pagé’s work—at times, it is circularly beautiful, echoing the rippling of a calm blue lake on a dim shoreline; at other times, it becomes menacing, brimming with subdued violence—the metallic shredding of hair gathering friction against string can set the teeth on edge.
Recorded live at Hotel2Tango by Thierry Amar in the winter of 2016, Dose Curves is a collection of solo compositions for pedal harp, homemade pickups, bows, fans, four amps, and electronics. A masterpiece of electroacoustic experimentation, Pagé’s spontaneous incorporation of avant techniques and unexpected instrumentation often makes one forget she’s playing the harp at all. Perfect for reflection, resolution, and revival.
Best Tracks: stasis, ephemeris data, and lithium paper