Search Results for:

CONSTELLATION

FYEAR

FYEAR

    FYEAR is a Montréal-based ensemble led by composer Jason Sharp and poet/writer Kaie Kellough that fuses spoken word into genre-bending compositions for electronics, two voices, two drummers, and processed saxophone, pedal steel guitar, and violins. FYEAR incorporates drone, out-jazz, post-classical, ambient metal, avant-rock, and modular synthesis in a sonic and stylistic palette the opposite of collage or pastiche: the FYEAR ensemble integrates a unique and unified sound/aesthetic while traversing adventurous and variegated terrain. Kellough’s poetic materiality conveys acute political-existential themes, alternating between declarative, meditative, and cut-up/semiotic manifestations. This self-titled debut album is a supremely innovative 40-minute multi-movement work; an ardent mission statement that mines the interzone where Saul Williams, Moor Mother/Irreversible Entanglements, Shabazz Palaces, Zulu, Angel Bat Dawid, Damon Locks/Black Monument Ensemble, Shabaka Hutchings, and Matana Roberts are all iconoclastic neighbours.

    FYEAR melds improvisation and composition, traditional notation and graphic scoring, electronic and acoustic instrumentation, lucid recitation and abstract vocalization, balancing intensive structure with an expansive sense of exploration. Through several years of collaboration, development, workshops, commissions and performances conducted by Sharp and Kellough, their wordsound practice has culminated in this nine-piece group which also features poet/writer/activist Tawhida Tanya Evanson (present director of the Banff Centre Spoken Word program) violinists Josh Zubot and Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Darius Jones, Joshua Hyslop), pedal steel player Joe Grass (Tim Hecker, Patrick Watson), drummers Stefan Schneider (Bell Orchestre) and Tommy Crane (The Mingus Big Band, Aaron Parks), with live visual [typo]graphics from Kevin Yuen-Kit Lo, who also designs the album art. Propelled by the vocal interactions of Kellough and Evanson, FYEAR interrogates our present and future post-capitalist polycrisis, invoking collective anxieties, emotions, and critiques. FYEAR re-poetizes our constructed, manipulated social/conceptual realities, re-inscribing questions about the future by setting them to a wildly dynamic and evocative temporal soundtrack: Who does it belong to? How will it be shared? How do we project a collective future into the contested challenges of climate change, global migration, wealth gaps, safety/precarity, identity/affinity, segmentation / segregation, all our seemingly irreconcilable histories and forward visions for the world we dream to inhabit?

    TRACK LISTING

    Pt I Trajectory
    Pt Ii Mercury Looms
    Pt Iii Counter Clock
    Pt Iv Degrees
    Pt V Misconception
    Pt Vi Precipice
    Pt Vii Pure Pursuit

    Erika Angell

    The Obsession With Her Voice

      The acclaimed Montréal-based Swedish singer/composer from Thus Owls and The Moth presents her solo debut. Angell has also worked with Daníel Bjarnason (Ben Frost, Sigur Rós), Arve Henriksen (Supersilent), Lisen Rylander Löve (Midaircondo), Liam O’Neill (SUUNS), Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Patrick Watson and more. Erika Angell still remembers the first time she sang this way. The Swedish-born musician was three and a half years old, alone at dusk atop a hill, staring down at the landscape around her parents’ farm—tangled woods, darkening houses—and from somewhere deep inside her, she found a voice. It was a song without language, without any specific melody; it was flowing and easy and free. “This memory still defines the essence of living, to me,” she says. A memory of pure music: untamed, unhesitant, open-hearted. Four decades later, now based in Montreal, Angell is “coming back to the beginning, somehow” with a debut solo album that reaches back toward that early childhood evening on a hilltop, when the music was raw, solitary and boundless.

      The Obsession With Her Voice is an expression of Angell’s inexhaustible love for art and music, a celebration of all the ways she has learned to articulate her instrument, a work of experimental exploration and feminist power that shimmers, cracks and shatters as it gathers the strands of one woman’s musical life. As a child, Angell was taught lieder and opera music by her choir-leader mother; as a teenager in the countryside, she spent all of her days studying jazz; later, she’d explore free improv and post-industrial electronics in a duo called The Moth. 14 years ago, Angell founded the acclaimed, Polaris-nominated band Thus Owls, whose five LPs have traversed jazz and indie rock’s outer reaches. Angell has also collaborated with artists ranging from Daníel Bjarnason (Ben Frost, Sigur Rós), Arve Henriksen (Supersilent) and Lisen Rylander Löve (Midaircondo) to Liam O’Neill (SUUNS) and Patrick Watson, as well as inaugurating the New Music trio Beatings Are In The Body with Róisín Adams and Peggy Lee.

      The ten tracks on The Obsession With Her Voice form a riveting collage, blending Angell’s searing and searching vocals with synths and electroacoustics (mixed brilliantly by Sam Woywitka), Jonathan Cayer’s mazelike string arrangements, and incandescent drum improvisations by Mili Hong. Songs like “One”, “Temple” and “Open Eyes” are poetic, through composed song-sculptures, musing on identity and disagreement. “Never Tried to Run” evokes Angell’s childhood idol Nina Hagen, weaving a snaky, sultry portrait of change, while “Up My Sleeve” shivers with a vivid worldliness: the singer in a state of emergency, watching the flames climb higher. Angell never gives in to cold experimentation or the willfully abstruse; even a song like “German Singer,” which narrates a concert over processed vocal snippets and a metronomic pulse, is fundamentally an invitation: a tribute to art’s value, to its power to seduce.

      Throughout, Angell pushes and processes her voice, plunging overtop noise and percussion, tracing melodies of fearless complexity, instantaneity and conviction. Listen for echoes of Scott Walker’s The Drift, Jenny Hval’s Blood Bitch, Brigitte Fontaine’s Comme à la radio and Sidsel Endresen & Stian Westerhus’s Bonita. “I was interested in the meeting-point between being ‘in’ yourself, ‘in’ your own world, and when you meet the outside,” Angell says. “I’ve never forgotten my evening on the hill—singing freely, without judging myself. Sending my energy out into the air. When I’m able to do that, bridging that breaking-point, it feels like a good thing. For the world, and for me too—to remind myself, and everyone, that we can do it.

      That it’s allowed. We can hold all these real faces of ourselves, in front of each other, and show each other that attention.” The Obsession With Her Voice is Erika Angell’s attempt to express a feeling: a windswept one, raw and unfeigned. Songs that explode, music that trembles like a vibration on a string—a singer sharing an insight and also a wish. “The sting above the heart…” she sings on “Let Your Hair Down,” “What does it mean? What is art?” And: “How can I be it?” 

      TRACK LISTING

      1 Dress Of Stillness
      2 Up My Sleeve
      3 German Singer
      4 Never Tried To Run
      5 One
      6 Open Eyes
      7 Bear
      8 Let Your Hair Down
      9 Good And Bad
      10 Temple

      Off World

      3

        Off World presents the final album in its trilogy of surreal and spacious leftfield electronics. "A stellar project headed by Sandro Perri, one of the most singular producers in contemporary music" (Boomkat), this third volume is another distinctive collection of tracks constructed from semi-improvised ensemble recordings made over the past decade with a varied cast of co-conspirators. Drew Brown, Matthew Cooper, Susumu Mukai and Andrew Zukerman join Perri again on a variety of synths and machines, along with violinist Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Fond Of Tigers). Perri also continues to add organ and piano to the mix, while Volume 3 notably features first-time Off World contributors Nicole Rampersaud on trumpet and Martin Arnold on guitar, both mainstays of Toronto's vibrant improv and out-music scenes. The Quietus calls Off World "genuinely explorative…the musical equivalent of a Dali-esque landscape" which through all sorts of genre-defying twists and turns, at times evokes "off-kilter, late Miles Davis ambience". Off World 3 doubles down on that jazz-adjacent trope in certain respects, while holding fast to Pitchfork's dictum that Perri "cultivates his own genreless brand of futurism." Marked by longer tracks than previous collections, three of the album's five songs clock in around the 10-minute mark, where overtly improvised instrumental playing wends its way across alternately bubbling and woozy electronic beds. "Impulse Controller" is a languidly skewed rhumba where ambling melodic undercurrents and dubby electronic pointillism provide a dulcet promenade for Rampersaud's Miles-esque trumpet excursions. "Ludic Loop" see-saws along in a slow synthy two-step, punctuated by Perri's restrained piano chords and Arnold's fried electric guitar. "Empasse" is perhaps most reminiscent of earlier Off World collections, though again slowed and stretched, with oozing synth bass ostinatos counterposed by ambient layers of viola and violin filigree from Zubot. These three centerpiece longform tracks each highlight one of the album's instrumental improvisers, and taken together, make for the most scintillating sedate and ruminant album in the trilogy. Off World 3 sounds as sui generis as ever, but in wrapping up the series, Perri sprinkles the project's emblematic alien surrealism with decidedly anthropic elements and temporalities. This final volume in the trilogy could also be seen as a re-statement of the politico-aesthetic mission that Pitchfork aptly celebrates in its glowing reviews of Perri's two most recent solo albums, In Another Life (2018) and Soft Landing (2019), that were released between Off World 2 and the present volume: a uniquely purposeful, subtly detailed cannon of songs "busy, vibrant, and bursting with life, but that aren't ever in a rush to get anywhere". 

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Orientation (3:45)
        2. Impulse Controller (10:49)
        3. Terrascope (1:03)
        4. Ludic Loop (9:55)
        5. Empasse (8:53)

        Markus Floats

        Fourth Album

          The Montréal-based avant-garde electronic composer/producer follows up his acclaimed Third Album, rallying players from local improv group Egyptian Cotton Arkestra to add new electroacoustic materiality to his abstract soul.

          The follow-up to his acclaimed Constellation debut Third Album released in lockdown spring 2020, Markus Floats returns with Fourth Album, pushing the Montréal-based artist’s distinct abstract electronic compositions into newly evocative terrain (while preserving his record- titling literalism). Faced with another couple of years spent unexpectedly, though not unfamiliarly, secluded and studio-bound, working on both paintings and music, Floats emerged by the end of 2022 with a set of tracks “about 60% finished” and a determined desire to throw off the shackles of distancing and isolation. “I had always thought about Markus Floats as a solo project but I am wrong about that. Fourth Album is about asking for help, inviting in, and making a home. It’s about trust, exploration, and the effort of letting go.”

          Sharing his in-progress recordings with a trio of close friends and collaborators from the powerhouse free music ensemble Egyptian Cotton Arkestra, each of these players then spent a day improvising to the tracks at Montréal’s Hotel2Tango studio. With violin by Ari Swan, saxophone and mbira by James Goddard, and guitar and drums by Lucas Huang, Floats stitched their extemporized instruments back into his compositional process. The result is a fluid, lustrous, dynamic expansion of his sound and structure that continues to strike the ineffable balance of abstraction and soulfulness rightly highlighted and celebrated in the critical response to Third Album. Fourth Album sustains much of that previous work’s enchanting equanimity, while inviting a bit more restlessness, accident and grit, with the incorporation of acoustic instruments and improvisation melding Floats’ own background in Electroacoustic Studies and Jazz Performance more than ever before.

          Signature avant-electronic explorations of arpeggiated and timbral transformation, subtle shifts in harmonic consonance and dissonance, and a through-composed praxis that draws coterminously upon free jazz, musique concrète and modern Minimalism, all continue to shape Fourth Album to great effect. But an additional palette of sonic and gestural raw material is now also decidedly “out-of-the-box”, charting a wider range of gestures, textures and temporalities. Fourth Album complexifies and intensifies across its 12 tracks, thematizing dualities and introducing new elements of play and accident, even a sort of looseness here and there, as it conjures communal expressivity within shorter, still scrupulous formal structures. Fourth Album also for the first time includes spoken word as a recorded element, previously only (and always) a feature of Markus Floats live performances. The album’s final track samples the poet and activist Fred Moten, closing with these words: “What we’ve been trying to figure out how to get to is how we are when we get together to try to figure it out.” This koan of socially-engaged process and creation/advancement of meaning through praxis and immanence reflects the unique fusion of intangible materiality and affective sensibility at work in Markus Floats music, unfolding in new depths and currents with Fourth Album.

          TRACK LISTING

          Introduction
          Death
          Free Wifi
          AS ABOVE
          Interlude
          Death (pt.2)
          Mdhvn
          SO BELOW
          Heaven Is Each Other
          Second Introduction
          Wands
          C (Featuring The Voice Of Fred Moten)

          Matana Roberts

          Coin Coin Chapter Five: In The Garden

            Celebrated composer, performer, saxophonist, soloist, band leader, educator, activist, and mixedmedia artist Matana Roberts returns with a new installment of their acclaimed Coin Coin series. For over a decade, Coin Coin has been the central artistic project for Roberts, a remarkable exploration of American ancestry and the nature of memory through “sound quilting”: modern composition that draws on a wide range of musical sources and traditions, along with researchdriven historical and genealogical narratives that yield prose and poetry both spoken and sung, field recordings, and graphic scores. The Quietus declares “when the 12-album cycle is complete, it will be regarded as a singular masterpiece of 21st century sonic and narrative art” and Pitchfork calls it “one of the most provocative ongoing bodies of work by any American musician.”

            Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden... is the first new recorded audio chapter since 2019 and centers upon reproductive rights, summoning the story of a family ancestor who died in early adulthood, from a cause kept obfuscated and hushed, shrouded in disinformation and shame. Roberts reimagines diaristic and oral narratives, delivered in strident streams of spoken word that punctuate the hour-long work, with recurring musical themes frequently accompanied by the declarative refrain "my name is your name / our name is their name / we are named / we remember / they forget.” As Roberts writes in the accompanying liner notes essay:

            I find it absolutely disgusting that the same trauma my grand ancestor, whose story we are telling in this chapter, is closely mirroring the experiences of some poor soul today as I write this... Our aforementioned grand, who perished at a young age, leaving her growing children motherless, did not have to die. The negative consequences of her death have reverberated down through generations in my family line, in the same way that a similar resounding might happen for someone else’s ancestral line generations from today. While often jazz-adjacent, and with Matana's inimitable saxophone and indomitable voice at the core, Roberts situates Coin Coin outside the Jazz genre and within heterodox pathways of postmodern composition, electroacoustic music, sound collage, experimental voice, and sound art.

            In the garden… undeniably continues to express and expand upon the project’s magnificent iconoclasm, nonetheless being the most jazz-inflected chapter since Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile (2013). Recorded in Brooklyn with a stellar acoustic ensemble that includes Stuart Bogie, Gitanjali Jain, Darius Jones, Matt Lavelle, Mike Pride, Ryan Sawyer, Corey Smythe, and Mazz Swift, abetted by some sparkling pieces featuring modular synthesis courtesy of album producer Kyp Malone (Bent Arcana, TV On The Radio), In the garden… traverses a vivid stylistic array of thematic overtures, excursions and set pieces, ranging from spacious textural invocations to gorgeously tempered horn-led compositions to driving free jazz and exhilarating throughcomposed bursts of cacophony. With storytelling spoken-word lead vocals by Roberts channeled recurringly throughout, alongside various other deployments of layered and group voices, the album is alternately a meditation and fever dream of narrative potency.

            This is some of the most intense and intensive music Roberts has composed and captured to date, richly conceived and deeply felt, restless yet focused, unflinchingly substantive and unique. Coin Coin Chapter Five: In the garden... channels epigenetic trauma and tragedy with teeming complexity and fierce beauty — a eulogy, testimony, and celebration, melding music and language in a stunning polychromatic flow of vernaculars and poetics. A powerful work of subjective commemoration and historical-cultural communion that speaks indelibly to the present moment.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Barry says: Matana Roberts has been at the forefront of the experimental jazz scene for some time now, and their Coin Coin series is one of the mainstays of an exceedingly strong CST roster. A peerless performer and impeccable composer and storyteller.

            TRACK LISTING

            1 We Said
            2 Different Rings
            3 Unbeknownst
            4 Predestined Confessions
            5 How Prophetic
            6 A Caged Dance
            7 I Have Long Been Fascinated
            8 Enthralled Not By Her Curious Blend
            8 No Way Chastened
            9 But I Never Heard A Sound So Long
            10 The Promise
            11 Shake My Bones
            12 A(way) Is Not An Option
            13 For They Do Not Know
            14 Others Each
            15 ...ain't I...your Mystery Is Our History

            Joni Void

            Everyday Is The Song

              Everyday Is The Song is Joni Void’s 3rd album for Constellation and a deeper plunge into emotive audio montage; the Montréal-based French-British producer calls it “Tape Vortex / Musique Verité / Memory Collage”. The album’s raw material relies centrally on a Walkman bought at local record shop Death Of Vinyl in spring 2020 and lost at a Backxwash show two years later, but not before hours of audio snippets were captured and archived. Everyday Is The Song is an evocative sample-based sonic diary brimming with warmth, transience and hyper-specificity where Void explores a more abstract and interstitial terrain of drifting miniatures. It remains very much a collection of songs, but relative to the more assertive and intensive tracks channeling explorations of traumatic interiority on their previous pair of acclaimed LPs, Void’s new album flows with intentional lightness and a more incidental atmosphere. Songs are constructed from audio recordings made all over and often while literally on the move: walking, cycling and skateboarding around the city; in bus and train stations; from car windows. The album’s overt musical material was recorded, often spontaneously and informally, in all sorts of jam spaces, living rooms and at local live shows. Perambulation is a central theme and constituent fabric of Everyday Is The Song, carrying with it a colloquial spirit of gentle, intrinsic sentimentality. The self-proclaimed “love, soul, agency, and whimsy” virtues of Ruby Yacht (R.A.P. Ferreira, Pink Navel, et al) have also been a lodestar for Void in this respect.

              As Sasha Geffen writes in their glowing 8.0 Pitchfork review of Joni Void’s last album Mise En Abyme (2019): "There is still experience that can't be atomized and analyzed, however slippery it may be even to those feeling it; [Void] hunts that sensation of flux and liminality, unearthing warmth in a landscape of paranoia." Everyday Is The Song continues in this ineffable vein, but on an explicit mission to substitute psychosis with the ephemera of fleeting delight in observation, documentation, participation, the daily small acts of sharing, caring, enthusiasm and kindness of creative being in-the-world. The album’s sonic travelogue through local audio geography and community conveys a sort of urban pastoralism and charming softness. Less kinetic and beat-driven than previous work, a field recording and audio art sensibility prevails, with a tempered intimacy that sends this new song cycle sailing along mostly dulcet but detailed waves of materiality. The result is an electro-acoustic tape collage album of beautifully drifting melody, occasional voice, wide-ranging ‘instrumentation’ and enchanting texture. Void’s deeply personal and keenly original aesthetic of assemblage and experimentation is on fine display, less burdened by forceful statement-making, but scrupulous, generous, and full of feeling.

              Musician friends whose instruments, sounds and voices appear on the album include Owen Pallett, N NAO, YlangYlang, Sarah Pagé, Shota Yokose, Mojeanne Behzadi, Maya Kuroki, Moshi Moshi and Thoughts On Air to name just a few. The album’s title comes from Strawberry723, a Twitter bot that posted “Everyday Is The Song” on May 5th 2018 (the anniversary of Void’s 2017 Constellation debut Selfless) and serendipitously invokes Void’s own long-running local event and micro-label platform Everyday Ago, itself taken from the Japanese-to-English auto-translate of a sentence about depression that yielded the phrase “I am being sad, everyday ago.” Everyday Is The Song remains perhaps broadly melancholic in temperature, but marks a turn away from angst, agitation, despondency or despair for Joni Void. Instead, its subjectivity imbues the quotidian with affecting narrative, understated wonder, and a wholly engaging serenity.

              TRACK LISTING

              1. Tape
              2. Still Life
              3. Disposable
              4. Non Locality
              5. Event Horizon
              6. Negative Loop
              7. In-Between Moments
              8. Parallax Error (+ N NAO)
              9. World Is Spinning At 33 RPM
              10. Vortex Any% Speedrun
              11. Present Day Montage
              12. Post-Credits Scene

              Ky

              Power Is The Pharmacy

                Ky is the new “solo” project of Ky Brooks, best known as vocalist/lyricist of noise trio Lungbutter and a slew of other Montréal-based out-music projects like 8-person queer punk band Femmaggots and experimental/improv trio Nag. Power Is The Pharmacy is an album of cerebral and visceral artpunk “mainly about grief, death, the fear of loss, losing dreams, losing youth, people, public space, ultimately oneself” an emotionally electrifying collection of songs fuelled by Ky’s piercing poetry, both spoken and sung, delivering an incisive blend of socio-political observation and spiritual sadness, swirling through vortices of disenchantment and re-enchantment.

                The seeds of Power Is The Pharmacy were planted in pre-lockdown performances where Big|Brave’s Mat Ball played tape loops to Ky’s poems, with their intent “to figure out how to make music that involved singing in a more melodic way and use parts of my voice I wasn’t using with Lungbutter and other noise/punk projects.” Then pandemic hit, along with Canadian pandemic income support, allowing for Ky’s acquisition of a couple of mini-synths. Songs took on all kinds of further re-shaping in the isolation of Montréal’s intense lockdown winter 2020-21. Then devastating tragedy struck (as it had for so many) in spring 2021 when Lungbutter drummer and dear friend Joni Sadler died suddenly of a brain aneurism. Ky describes “All The Sad And Loving People” as “the most direct piece of writing I’ve done in response to Joni’s passing” and the song’s haunting, devotional simplicity is a numinous album highlight among many.

                Power Is The Pharmacy careens through hissing bruitist synthscape, free/jazz sprinkles, soft-focus gauze, coldwave and ambient-to-thick sludge, all anchored by Ky’s superbly sly, searching, serrated lyrics and voice. The album ranges from trenchant spoken-word tracks like “Power Is The Pharmacy (Teeth)” and “Work That Superficially Looks Like Leisure”—which repeats the line “Suddenly! / No not suddenly! / But with a fantastic regularity and remarkable softness! / I woke up and decided I knew how to work!” to the haunting electro of “The Dancer” and “All The Sad And Loving People” (most overtly evoking Big Science-era Laurie Anderson, a recurring stylistic touchstone). The album’s second half brings Ball’s incendiary noise-improv guitar to the fore, along with Ky’s voice more fiercely and soulfully unleashed, on heavy incantatory cuts like “Revolving Door”, “Dragons” and the quasi-operatic cabaret of “Listen! Avoid Magic! Be Aware!”

                Ky enlisted a diverse crew of fellow Montréal iconoclasts to flesh out this gripping voyage through unruly stylistic and mood swings of experimental song, including the aforementioned Mat Ball, synth maven Nick Schofield, saxophonist James Goddard (Egyptian Cotton Arkestra), bassist Joshua Frank (Gong Gong Gong) and drummer Farley Miller (Shining Wizard). Ky composed all the music, plays synths and guitars, asked all these friends to “not under any circumstances play any particular thing” and then and mixed the album “for 10 million years.” The album draws its title from A Critique Of Black Reason by Achille Mbembe, as quoted in the liner notes: Power is the pharmacy, thanks to its capacity to transform the sources of death into a seeding strength, or to convert the resources of death into the capacity for healing. And it is because of its dual ability to be the force of life and the principle of death that power is at once revered and feared. But the relationship between the principles of life and death is fundamentally unstable.

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Power Is The Pharmacy (Teeth)
                2. All The Sad And Loving People
                3. Work That Superficially Looks Like Leisure
                4. The Dancer
                5. Revolving Door
                6. Listen! Avoid Magic! Be Aware!
                7. Dragons
                8. Elvin Silverware
                9. The Replacement

                ALL HANDS_MAKE LIGHT

                Darling The Dawn

                  The new kosmische electronic shoegaze duo of Ariel Engle (Broken Social Scene, Patrick Watson, La Force) and Efrim Manuel Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion). Longtime friends, collaborators, and stalwarts of the Montréal post-punk community, this is their first full-fledged project together. Mixed by Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) and featuring guest players Jessica Moss (Thee Silver Mt Zion, Big | Brave) and Liam O’Neil (Suuns).

                  AH_ML weaves these 2 unique voices through lustrous tendrils of blown-out tones and drones, expanding on Menuck’s eponymous modular and analog synth-based work of recent years, now imbued with an additionally searing, soulful warmth and melodicism through Engle’s singing. “Darling The Dawn” is a spellbinding album of preternaturally genre-bending sonics and songwriting: a sort of electronic shoegaze suffused with freak-folk, kosmische, darkwave and post-industrial, flowing from ambient minimalism to pulsing maximalism, conjuring traditionals sung in the haze of earliest light accompanied by overdriven circuit boards powered with ungrounded wires.

                  Engle and Menuck see AH_ML in a folk lineage traced through the likes of Pentangle and Trees to White Magic and Amps For Christ. While there’s no discernable guitar or acoustic instrumentation on the album (warm distorted synths provide the palette, along with signal-processed violin from fellow-traveller Jessica Moss), off-kilter drone incantations like “A Sparrow’s Lift” and “A Workers’ Graveyard (Poor Eternal)” perhaps sit most overtly within these seams of the skewed-folk substratum. The dichotomic ritualism of Can is an adjacent signpost, where methodical longform soundscaping combines with a feeling of extemporized immediacy. The album’s tremendous 10-minute centerpieces “We Live On A Fucking Planet And Baby That’s The Sun” and the motorik-driven “The Sons And Daughters Of Poor Eternal” also make this influence explicit thanks in part to the resplendent drumming of guest Liam O’Neil (Suuns), who helps propel both tracks to their spiralling peaks. Above all it’s the singing and lyrics, in method and melodic delivery, that conjure certain freak-folk furrows.

                  Engle calls this “music inspired by ancestor music, sea shanties for seas we’ve never sailed” and the duo have indeed forged a collection on “Darling The Dawn” where vocals often feel strangely rooted in traditionals, while the instrumentation resonates out-of-time, in a liminal space at once glisteningly synthetic and oxidized in analog patina. As the album title suggests, sleepless anxiety/euphoria and a sense of somatic channeling is vital to these songs: “I mostly kept the first thought I had, like a cold read, I wanted the melodies to be immediate and to surprise me, not a laboured process; it’s about being a weather vane, guided by preconscious impulses” says Engle.

                  For Menuck, the record started “with an idea of making a long thing about ‘THE DAWN’, the different weights of its radiance, the way it kisses our dumb faces when we rise and leave the night behind, the heaviness of that light when you haven’t slept.” “Darling The Dawn” captures a wholly compelling collaboration between Engle and Menuck in an album of genuine thematic power, thrumming with alternately tender and serrated beauty as only their combined strengths and sensibilities could conjure.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. A Sparrows’ Lift
                  2. We Live On A Fucking Planet And Baby That’s The Sun
                  3. Waiting For The Light To Quit
                  4. A Workers’ Graveyard (Poor Eternal)
                  5. The Sons And Daughters Of Poor Eternal
                  6. Anchor
                  7. Lie Down In Roses Dear

                  Black Ox Orkestar

                  Everything Returns

                    Everything Returns reconvenes the original Black Ox Orkestar lineup after a 15-year hiatus. Arising from the fertile Montréal post-punk scene of the early 2000s, the band comprises Scott Gilmore, Jessica Moss and Thierry Amar of Thee Silver Mt. Zion (Amar also continues to compose and play bass for Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Gabriel Levine of Sackville. Black Ox made two acclaimed albums of roiling acoustic avant-folk in the mid-2000s, exploring Eastern European and North African folkways through the lens of a gritty, resonant indie rock sensibility, juxtaposing interpretations of instrumentals from various Jewish, Romani and Arabic traditions with originals led by Gilmore’s politically-charged Yiddish vocals. These early albums have since become lodestars for many among a new generation of Yiddish, Klezmer and radical Jewish diasporic music practitioners and fans.

                    First revealing its resurrection in February 2022 with a surprise flexi 7” single issued by leftist magazine Jewish Currents as a gift to its thousands of subscribers, Black Ox has indeed fully and fruitfully reunited. Exquisitely recorded by Greg Norman (Jason Molina, Nina Nastasia, Electrical Audio), Everything Returns picks up right where the band left off: an incisively atmospheric, melancholic yet resolute album of uniquely modern Jewish folk music, with piano, violin, upright bass, clarinet and cymbalom making up the core instrumentation, and the vocal tunes sung primarily in Yiddish, alongside album centerpiece “Viderkol” and closer “Lamed-Vovnik” where English also features.

                    This is not fusion music, but diaspora music: a cross-cultural call and response of musical lexicons, emerging from the history of Jewish persecution and displacement, the musicology of 19th century repertoire from Jewish shtetls, the improvisational traditions of nusakh in Jewish music and taqsim in Arabic music, and a wider polyglot dialogue of Jewish, Slavic, Arabic, and Central Asian musical traditions. Lyrically and stylistically, Everything Returns connects key current issues—from refugees forced to leave their homes, to the return of fascism and exclusionary nationalism—with the legacy of modernist Yiddish poetry and song.

                    The new Black Ox Orkestar album is a sublime, poetic, politically-informed statement of re-energized diasporic musical intent, where Gilmore’s voice and the band’s simmering arrangements conjure an ardent, doleful balladry that echoes the sound and sensibility of artists like Tindersticks, The National, Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen. Everything Returns is a haunting, richly textured, darkly sparkling song cycle at once from a vanished world and very much of our time and place.

                    STAFF COMMENTS

                    Barry says: A hugely welcome return for one of the most affecting voices in CST history here, with Black Ox Orkestar bringing us the appropriately titled 'Everything Returns'. Swooning folksong and filmic whimsy come together with an unfalteringly well-written flair. There are many reasons that CST are probably my favourite label of all time, and Black Ox Orkestar are one of them. Beautiful.

                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Tish Nign
                    2. Perpetual Peace
                    3. Oysgeforn / Bessarabia Hora
                    4. Mizrakh Mi Ma’arav
                    5. Skotschne
                    6. Viderkol (Echo)
                    7. Epigenetik
                    8. Moldovan Zhok
                    9. Lamed-Vovnik

                    Esmerine

                    Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More

                      Esmerine presents Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, its first album in five years, following a celebrated run of Juno Award winning and nominated records throughout the preceding decade. Founded by ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron and cellist Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames), the acclaimed instrumental music ensemble and has long embroidered emotive chamber works using threads of post-classical, post-rock, Minimalism, neo-Baroque, jazz, pop and a wide array of folk traditions. Esmerine conjures a distinctive and immediately identifiable sound that consistently defies the trappings of “fusion”, forging emotive cinematic soundtracks under the overriding sonic sensibilities of postpunk grit, Wall-of-Sound, drone and dark ambient. Recorded by longtime co-producer Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), the new album manifestly carries on in this fine tradition. Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More completes Esmerine’s “Anthropocene” triptych: a series of album-length meditations that began in 2015.

                      [The phrase "Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More" was coined by author Alexei Yurchak in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, published by Princeton University Press in 2005]

                      The album grapples with existential tensions between atmosphere and airlessness, seclusion and claustrophobia, forbearance and satiation, scarcity and abundance; it is one of Esmerine’s most restrained and wistful works. Instrumental densities ebb and flow, melding into each other with gauzy timbral warmth, sometimes tracing fleeting tendrils outwards, but always rotating around the saturnine gravitational force of a darkly glowing sonic center. Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More is like a somber forest lit by a closely-orbiting opalescent planet; it could be the alternate score to Von Trier’s Melancholia or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

                      Esmerine planted these compositional seeds before pandemic rooted everyone in place, under the auspices of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts and a 2019 residency at Le Château de Monthelon in France. Lasek then began documenting the band between lockdowns in various stripped-down configurations with spartan remote equipment at the rural Québec homesteads of Cawdron and Foon, culminating in final sessions at Foon’s converted barn in summer/fall 2021, notably with extensive use of the barn’s resonant acoustic piano. Brian Sanderson appears on his fourth Esmerine album since joining in 2012, continuing to expand the ensemble’s ethnomusicological sensibility and melodic sound palette with guitars, ngoni, ekonting, hulusi, and brass horns of all sorts. Everything Was Forever… also signals the full integration of bassist Philippe Charbonneau, who joined Esmerine as a touring member pre-pandemic and plays throughout the new album, along with sound design contributions via synth, tape echo and other processing. Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More features the pandemic collage artwork of Maciek Sczcerbowksi, in a second Esmerine album art collaboration following their Juno award for Album Package of the Year for Lost Voices in 2015

                      TRACK LISTING

                      A1 Blackout
                      A2 Entropy – Incantation / Radiance / The Wild Sea
                      A3 Entropy – Acquiescence A4 Hymn For Rob
                      B1 Imaginary Pasts
                      B2 Fractals For Any Tonality
                      B3 Foxtails & Fireflies
                      B4 Wakesleep
                      B5 Number Stations

                      Jessica Moss

                      Galaxy Heart

                        The companion album to Phosphenes (Nov 2021) by the composer-violinist of Thee Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames, Black Ox Orkestar.

                        Featuring guests Jim White (Xylouris White, Dirty Three) and Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

                        RIYL: Dirty Three, The Body, Stars Of The Lid, Kali Malone, This Will Destroy You, Sarah Davachi, Thee Silver Mt Zion.

                        Galaxy Heart is the companion album to Phosphenes (Nov 2021) and completes an intensive body of work that Montréal composer-violinist Jessica Moss wrote, performed and self-produced in deep isolation throughout 2020. As A Closer Listen wrote in its Top Ten Modern Composition list for 2021, “few musical voices represent so well the estrangement and intensity of our times; Moss is among the best of them.” Galaxy Heart consolidates this assessment, revealing the more exploratory and extemporaneous side of her profoundly expressive instrumental lyricism. Where Phosphenes showcased some of Moss’ most deliberate and accomplished post-classical compositions to date, Galaxy Heart quivers with a raw and searching energy, juxtaposing rough-hewn and honed pieces. Expanding the palette to include spiky semi-improvised electric guitar along with remotely-recorded guest contributions from drummer Jim White (Xylouris White, Dirty Three) and contrebassist Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) on a couple of tracks, the album inscribes a (mostly) instrumental space of bristling anguish, melancholia, resoluteness and conviction.

                        Opening with the distorted dissonant string clusters of “Resistance Creature” and the through-composed knock-out “Uncanny Being”, with White’s roiling drums and Amar’s upright bass the simmering substratum for Moss’ alternately gritty and rounded violin movements, Galaxy Heart pivots to electric guitar and sludged post-industrial drone on “This Continuous Spectrum”, a descending melodic motif recurring over doomy low-end bursts and a slow broken-steam engine beat. Side One closes with two vocal tracks: “Is There Room For All Of It” (again featuring White and Amar) has Moss singing and playing organ in a spine[1]tingling longform unison melody; the chilling title track “Galaxy Heart” calls back fractured electric guitar and droning pulse, with Moss belting out initially strangled, strident lines that give way to gently layered voicings in a cratered spaciousness these dynamics then cycling forward like the sequences of a dying star. Side Two features three superb violin études, each distinguished by Moss’ distinctively amplified violin timbres and her unique ear for the tropes of various folk traditions, interspersed with the plaintive but stately vocal song “Enduring Oceans”, and closing with “Opened Ending”, her mesmerizing contribution to Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longform Singles Series from 2020, previously released only as a digital track and short film by indie legend Jem Cohen (Fugazi’s Instrument documentary, Benjamin Smoke, Museum Hours). Galaxy Heart is cosmic music of dark matter and interstellar dust, of gravitational waves and celestial grit that connect messy terrestrial life with its human, animal, natural suffering and beauty to chaotic and unruly universal forces.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        1. Resistance Creature
                        2. Uncanny Being (Violin Study #2)
                        3. This Continuous Spectrum
                        4. Is There Room For All Of It
                        5. Galaxy Heart
                        6. Light Falls On Every Door
                        7. Uncanny Body (Violin Study #1)
                        8. Enduring Oceans
                        9. Undirected
                        10. Opened Ending

                        Steve Bates

                        All The Things That Happen

                          RIYL: William Basinski, Wolf Eyes, Gas, Tim Hecker, Emeralds, Yellow Swans, Flying Saucer Attack. Steve Bates is an artist and musician known for his work with post-rock ensemble Black Seas Ensemble, duos with Timothy Herzog and Sophie Trudeau of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, amongst others, as well as a series of digital-only sonic explorations on his own label, The Dim Coast. All The Things That Happen is his first full-length album for Constellation. For this album, Bates pursued a more stripped down exploration of the noisier terrain of the cheap timbre and tonality of the much-loved Casio SK-1 keyboard sampler. These sounds were fed through a variety of electronics, effects, amps, cassettes recorders to shift into their current form heard on these tracks.

                          Steve notes that all the tracks started off as ambient, "but I always kept reaching for more texture and noise." Getting reacquainted with the Casio SK-1 was the initial focus on developing the music here. Processed and manipulated during the recording and mixing stages, these initial SK-1 sessions became the foundation of this body of music. Working within the rich world of experimental electronics, these tracks have a core melodicism to them and maybe even a melancholy, as distortion and overtones saturate and spray the music in various directions, while feeling whole and integrated as a body of sound. A fixture of Winnipeg's burgeoning anarcho-punk and social justice community in the 80s-90s, Bates played in hardcore and indie rock bands (XOXO, Bulletproof Nothing) while contemporaneously continuing to fiddle obsessively with the shortwave radio his father bought him as a child — sensibilities that continue to meld and inform his sound work to this day. Bates founded the Send + Receive Festival in 1998, a crucial development in putting Winnipeg on the map for avant music and experimental sound art, which he helmed for seven years. Moving to Tiohti:áke/Montréal in 2005 he took on the Sound Coordinator position at Hexagram (Concordia University), released solo and duo work on ORAL_records and two albums with his Black Seas Ensemble on The Dim Coast, while pursuing myriad other ongoing audio research, installation and collaborative projects. His exhibition and site-specific works have been presented throughout North America and Europe, Chile and Senegal. 

                          TRACK LISTING

                          A1 Groves Of…everything!
                          A2 These Problems Are Multiplied By The Difficulty I Have In Front Of A Tape Recorder
                          A3 Glistening
                          A4 Covered In Silt And Weed
                          B1 Destroy The Palace
                          B2 Glimpse An End
                          B3 Bring On Black Flames
                          B4 We Do Not, Nor To Hide
                          B5 September Through September

                          Automatisme & Stefan Paulus

                          Gap/Void

                            The debut collaborative album by Automatisme (Canadian producer William Jourdain) and Swiss field recordist, visual artist, writer/academic and psychogeographer Stefan Paulus, who first met through shared projects with Mille Plateaux/Force Inc, including contributions to the Ultrablack Of Music anthology. Gap/Void is based on field recordings made by Paulus during mountain expeditions in the Swiss Alps, the Caucasus, and the Arctic Circle—documenting stormy weather, high alpine winds, avalanches, and sounds emanating from glaciers and from the insides of crevices and caves. Paulus folded these recordings into hundreds of layers of sound (like the geological strata of their geographic sources) and sent these ambient/noise pieces to Jourdain as raw material for his bespoke Automatisme techniques.

                            Gap/Void leads with five rhythmic tracks (cut to 33rpm LP) featuring Automatisme's trademark interstitial digital synthesis and elastic/erratic signal processing, followed by five companion tracks of the original ambient/drone works by Paulus reprocessed by Automatisme. (All tracks on CD/DL and LP download card.) Chain Reaction was a stylistic touchstone for the duo and Gap/Void also intends to resubstantiate the ambling, adrenal trajectories of Paulus' original mountain climbs. A fine addition to Jourdain's prolific body of recent solo and duo works, in line with his shift from the variable tempo strategies of Transit (2018, Constellation) and Alter- (2020, Mille Plateaux) toward the resurgent minimal dub/techno pulse of his Viatorism project (2020, Mille Plateaux; 2021, Diffuse Reality) and his 2021 Zeitgeist album with Beyond Humans (2021, Force Inc).

                            TRACK LISTING

                            A1 Säntis
                            A2 Marwees
                            B1 Üble Schlucht
                            B2 Blau Schnee
                            B3 Stoos
                            DL1 Wisswand
                            DL2 Schwarzhorn
                            DL3 Tothore
                            DL4 Nob DL5 Wisshorn

                            T. Gowdy

                            Miracles

                              T. Gowdy has kept up a productive albeit mostly virtual pace since the release of Therapy With Colour (his third full-length album and first for Constellation) which dropped just as things were locking down back in spring 2020: performances at numerous festivals including MUTEK Montréal, Node Festival and NEW NOW; audiovisual pieces exhibited at various European galleries and events; a track and video for Constellation’s Corona Borealis Longplay Singles Series; sound design for the documentary Atalaya by filmmaker Emma Roufs. Gowdy now returns with Miracles, his second full-length for Constellation, which draws on source materials originally performed in 2018 for an unreleased audio/visual project based around surveillance footage—a precursor to video[1]capped, monitor-based horizons that soon took on new meanings.

                              Re-immersing himself in those recordings, Gowdy disassembles and deploys them as raw source material for new experiments with vactrols, noise gates and analog-to-digital triggering and aliasing, the original recordings juxtaposed anew amidst their successive textural and rhythmic treatments. Gowdy keeps this re-composition process stripped down, elemental and purposive, guided by an ascetic Aufhebung: synthesis as sublation—subjecting a temporal material/theme to analysis and transformation, reintegrating to form a whole that overcomes what it preserves without erasure, reshaping and intrinsically carrying its origins forward.

                              Where Therapy With Colour was strictly and rigorously a set of stereo live performances, Miracles fuses iterative—though still spartan—layers of performance. “Therapy With Colour was about healing through self-hypnosis; Miracles is about forging a future with memory through subjection to trigger mechanisms” notes Gowdy. The result is a captivating collection of minimal IDM and oscillated electronics from the Montréal/Berlin producer, working primarily in a 120-140 BPM zone of tonal percussion and corrugated pulse. Gowdy’s sensibility and sound palette gets deeper and dirtier, summoning new pathways of alluvial flicker and abraded euphoria.

                              As the album progresses, low-pass gate vactrols coalesce into a clear and vital theme, conveying immanence through woody timbres at times reminiscent of the Shinrin-yoku aesthetic (Japanese ‘forest bathing’), though always with a grainy transcendence rather than invoking any clean pure sheen. Gowdy consistently heats and heightens the presence of each component in the mix, balancing different elements in democratic compression/distortion, attaining an unornamental and earnest form of mantric-industrial majesty. Miracles is live, corporeal, activated electronic music of the highest caliber, deployed with monastic and meditative focus. 

                              TRACK LISTING

                              1 350J
                              2 Miracles
                              3 Déneigeuse
                              4 Transcend I
                              5 U4A 6 Vidisions
                              7 Clipse
                              8 Transcend 

                              Joyfultalk

                              Familiar Science

                                JOYFULTALK returns with its third album for Constellation; another vibrantly divergent stylistic take on the analog materiality and sensibility of electronic composer-producer Jay Crocker, whose previous two records forged trance-inducing polyrhythmic intricacy. Familiar Science rallies contributions from a larger cast of musicians into a looser, cosmic recombinant combo still shot through with JOYFULTALK’s singular mixing desk kinetics, but this time deep-diving into gnarled and twisted, spliced and diced out-jazz. Crocker draws inspiration from 1980s M-Base music and Ornette Coleman’s harmolodic funk period, while his own prior history as an improv guitarist also resurfaces for the first time in many years.

                                Familiar Science finds Crocker folding time (as lockdown will do), immersed in his present-day kaleidoscope of solitary art and music practices in rural Nova Scotia, while channeling his former life as a bustling jazz collaborator in Calgary, Alberta. Building outwards from roiling resampled acoustic drums, Crocker extracted additional sonic and rhythmic textures, then formed the head of each song using dusted-off archival recordings and his own bass, keys and midi sequencing. Albertan percussionists Eric Hamelin (Ghostkeeper, Chad Vangaalen) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Alvvays) provided improvised drum tracks to be chopped and harvested; Nova Scotia-based Nicola Miller (Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli) laid down resplendent excursions on saxophone and flute; Crocker’s own dexterous guitar appears on several cuts. Familiar Science also poignantly features samples from live recordings by the late Calgary saxophonist iconoclast Dan Meichel, catalysing some of the album’s heaviest contortions.

                                Crocker weaves all these raw materials into exuberant compositions that blur the line between sizzling corporeal combo and sampledelic futurist jamz, variously conjuring (leftfield) Flying Lotus, (later) Tortoise, BADBADNOTGOOD and Squarepusher’s Music Is Rotted One Note. The rubbery hyper-compression of boom-bap opener “Body Stone” initiates the séance, and the album offers a panoply of skittering grooves and soaring melodic pathways thereafter. Crocker’s own wordless stacked vocals are the giddy secret sauce on several cuts, and his lead guitar work (in kinship with the lean progressions of Mary Halvorson or Jeff Parker) features on “Take It To The Grave”, “Stop Freaking Out!” and the album’s title track. More honeyed passages on songs like “Blissed For A Minute” and “Ballad In 9” center around Miller’s bouyant alto sax and flute.

                                Familiar Science is a rousing feast of noise-tinged polychrome electronic avant-jazz: richly harmolodic compositions teeming with intersecting textures and turbulences; exploratory, exhilarated and indeed joyful.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                01 Body Stone
                                02 Take It To The Grave
                                03 Particle Riot
                                04 Familiar Science
                                05 Ballad In 9
                                06 Blissed For A Minute
                                07 Hagiography
                                08 Stop Freaking Out!

                                RIYL: Scott Walker, PJ Harvey, Coil, Matmos, Autechre & Pan Daijing.

                                The Debut Full-Length By Montréal Producer Kee Avil, The Project Led By Avant/Improv Guitarist Vicky Mettler, Also Known As A Member Of Sam Shalabi’s Land Of Kush And As Co-Founder Of Concrete Sound Montréal. Advance Single “See, My Shadow” Premiered By Mary Ann Hobbs On BBC6 And Picked Up By Music & Riots, Backseat Mafia, Aural Aggravation, Etc In Dec 2021. Kee Avil, a project led by Montréal producer and guitarist Vicky Mettler: a singular expression of fractured dream logic concretized in chiselled postpunk guitar, sinuous low-end electronics, a panoply of organic and digital samples creating alternately twitchy and propulsive rhythm, and the anxious intimacy of her finely wrought lyricism and vocals. Bound by an outstanding production sensibility throughout, Crease unfolds one oblique earworm hook after another, with compositional innovation anchored to an inscrutable and compelling voice across 10 songs of tremendous and imaginative sonic detail.

                                Kee Avil brings a contemporary electroacoustic sensibility to bear on traditions and conventions of pop, postpunk, electronic and sound-art songwriting, where touchstones range from Scott Walker and Coil to Fiona Apple, (early) PJ Harvey and (later) Juana Molina to Eartheater, Pan Daijing and Smerz; or Grouper produced by Autechre. Her unconventional alloys also conjure the guitar-inflected deconstructions of Gastr del Sol and the crystalline micro-worlds of Bjork, Matmos and Rashad Becker. Crease is one of those debut records that excites a wide range of peerless references precisely because it's so compelling in its own idiosyncratic authority, originality and execution. Each song on Crease is its own sculpture, meticulously assembled to resemble disassembly: “each of these worlds was built without consideration for the other; it felt impossible to me, once I would enter the atmosphere of a song, to try to start another until that idea was finished.”

                                The album nonetheless unfolds in impressive holistic integration through a palette of textures and techniques deployed in recurring but continually refracted ways. Alongside her superb austere guitar work stitched into electro-industrial, dark-ambient and minimal-techno soundworlds, it’s her voice and lyrics confidential, hermetic, implacable that provide the galvanizing, always captivating through-line. Her more compositional, exacting, (de)constructed musical identity was first unveiled with the self-titled Kee Avil EP (Black Bough Records) and further honed by pre-pandemic tours sharing stages with Pere Ubu, Marc Ribot and Bill Orcut among others. Woodshedding since then, Crease presents a quantum leap in Kee Avil's exploration of studio-based experimentation, arrangement and production, signaling the arrival of a brilliantly genre-melding, refined and assiduous new voice in avant-garde songcraft. 

                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                Barry says: It's definitely an off-piste release for decidedly off-piste label Constellation here, but ends up being a surprisingly good fit. There are echoes of the modern classical roots of the label's forbears, but it's essentially a juxtaposition of MSP sound mangling and futuristic fractured electronica via avant synth drone. A heady, exhilarating journey.

                                TRACK LISTING

                                01 See, My Shadow
                                02 Saf
                                03 Drying
                                04 Melting Slow
                                05 And I
                                06 Okra Ooze
                                07 I Too, Bury
                                08 Devil’s Sweet Tooth
                                09 HHHH
                                10 Gone Again 

                                Eric Chenaux

                                Say Laura

                                  RIYL: Betty Carter, Chet Baker, Jeanne Lee, Richard Youngs, David Grubbs, Derek Bailey, Smog, Goldfrapp.

                                  Featuring Guest Ryan Driver, Say Laura is the follow-up to Slowly Paradise (2018) which landed Chenaux on the cover of The Wire among other accolades. The new record by Eric Chenaux is his most immaculate and pristine. Say Laura perfectly incarnates the counter-intuitive interplay of instrument and voice that Chenaux has been revealing and revelling in throughout the past decade: his gently unhinged juxtaposition of resplendently smooth, seductively assured singing and puckish, frazzled, thoroughly destabilized guitar could come from no other musician. The five wandering, wondering ballads on Say Laura bring Chenaux's semi-improvised but keenly intentional songwriting to its fullest, clearest, warmest and coolest articulation; uncompromising and generous, hyper-specific and loose, spartan and luxurious, elemental and ornate. And Say Laura breathes like no other Chenaux album. Voice and guitar are inscribed with elemental clarity in a wondrously open, symbiotic sonic space. His pure tenor croon glides through a crisp, reverberant ether while his fried guitar careens dizzily and giddily, every gesture and timbre captured in unflinching detail.

                                  Opener “Hello, How? And Hey” immediately establishes these subtly heightened characteristics of elementalism, dualism and structure, with Chenaux’s vocal tracing gorgeous soaring melodies across a single beating chord, occupying all the space until guitar and Wurlitzer (courtesy of the album’s only guest, long-time collaborator Ryan Driver) enter in a cascade of twinkle and wah at the two-minute mark, eventually leaving the vocal behind as the song’s second half gives way to a woozy guitar and keyboard improv over the chordal pulse. Album closer “Hold The Line” follows a similar motif, the vocal playing more on folk and pop tropes, but wrapping up in time for a gloriously gnarled eight-minute instrumental ramble. “There They Were” is something closer to unprecedented in Chenaux’s twenty-year songbook: singing and soloing at the same time, he breathlessly repeats a joyous highlife-tinged vocal refrain without pause, cutting against his trademark languorous pace, propelling the song for miles.

                                  Title track and lead single “Say Laura” is the centerpiece distillation of the album’s stylistic, compositional and spatial mission: sparse but lush, controlled but wild, every note in its place and all over the place. Interviewed as The Wire magazine's cover star in 2017, Chenaux said "the details of our lives are often produced with improvisation and experimentation and in my music, improvisation is a way to hear those details." The details on Say Laura achieve new heights of lucid acuity. Eric Chenaux keeps getting better; Say Laura captures him at his best. 

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  Barry says: Chenaux brings his unique production style and evocative songwriting to Constellation once again for this thoughtful and poised collection, reminiscent of spiritual jazz but with an inventive and unmistakeable avant-twist, all tempered with his distinctive and perfectly syrupy vox. A brilliantly dynamic and exciting return for Chenaux.

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  01 Hello, How? And Hey
                                  02 Your New Rhythm
                                  03 Say Laura
                                  04 There They Were
                                  05 Hold The Line 

                                  Jessica Moss

                                  Phosphenes

                                    Jessica Moss Also Known For Her Tenure In Thee Silver Mt. Zion (2002-2015), Black Ox Orkestar (2002-2007), Recordings By Vic Chesnutt, Carla Bozulich, Arcade Fire, Basia Bulat, Roy Montgomery, Sarah Davachi, Big Brave & More. A phosphene is “the phenomenon of seeing light without light entering the eye.” The title of the heart-rending and resolute new album by composer/violinist Jessica Moss could not be better chosen. Moss is by now a seasoned practitioner of immersive isolation music; across three previously acclaimed solo records of minimal and maximal post-classicism, her acoustic, amplified, and electronically-shifted violin is the raw material for deeply expressive, palpably haunted, wholly committed compositions. But Phosphenes inscribes fleeting halos of refracted ghostly light out of a prevailing darkness with especially plangent determination and intensity. This is the most overtly searching, mournful and inexorable music Moss has made to date. The pieces on Phosphenes exquisitely navigate consonance and dissonance, building patiently from single notes to multiple voicings, harmonic stacks and clusters. These compositions channel themselves like slow-moving water in a dark cave, finding small eddies and catching glints of luminescence from within. Signal processing is kept to a minimum in the three-movement “Contemplation” suite on Side One, where Moss deploys amplification chiefly in the service of activating overtones and pitch-shifts, thickening and widening the sonics, carving out her unique timbral space. Based on a four-note sequence that sets whole tones against one another, “Contemplation” is a bona fide requiem that finds Moss at her most instrumentally naturalistic, measured, and modern. Side Two unfolds in a more foreboding vein: “Let Down” is marked by cavernous octave-dropped arco and pizzicato, providing a gothically-inflected substratum upon which hauntingly wordless vocal invocations and cumulative gyres of violin melody unfurl. “Distortion Harbour” grinds with noisier grit and a more harrowing complexion, highlighting Moss’s ambient-metal sensibility and her distinctive palette of industrial-inflected power electronics a reminder of why she’s also been a go-to player on albums by the likes of Big Brave, Oiseaux-Tempête and Zu in recent years. These two songs also feature upright bass from old friend and former bandmate Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Black Ox Orkestar). Album closer “Memorizing & Forgetting” is inarguably the most tender and beautiful song in Jessica’s oeuvre: a keening lullabye of sorts, on which she plays piano, violin and guitar, joined by her partner Julius Levy in a lustrous ambient vocal duet. Everyone has been trying to find a way through and out of pandemic, lockdown, social isolation and often darkened hope and for many musicians, the absence of touring, of live performance, live sound, live audiences, and a living. For Moss, it’s also been “like when you press your fists hard against your eyes and eventually there is fireworks.” The light gets in where it can, even or maybe especially as imaginative sensory simulacra (if/when we shut down our screens and are left to our own devices). Phosphenes is a stoic, acutely sensitive, superlative musical statement from Moss.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    01 Contemplation I
                                    02 Contemplation II
                                    03 Contemplation III
                                    04 Let Down
                                    05 Distortion Harbour
                                    06 Memorizing & Forgetting 

                                    Light Conductor

                                    Sequence Two

                                      Light Conductor returns with Sequence Two, the second album of prismatic slow-burn analog synth instrumentals by the duo of Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) and Stephen Ramsay (Young Galaxy). Expanding on the hypnaogogic ambience of their warm and uncluttered 2019 debut, Lasek and Ramsay add subtle but scintillating structure and electricity to these four new longform tracks. The songs remain predominantly beatless, but burble and vibrate with more ornate, intentional pulses, arpeggiators and control voltages. Light Conductor's analog palette of gently fuzzed-out chordal drone, mesmeric ostinato, sweeping filters and drifting levitational melody continues to colour the glowing atmosphere of this enveloping space/trance music: like sunrise on another planet, with a profoundly satisfying dimension of heightened ceremony and design.

                                      Working from recordings helmed by Ramsay in late 2019 and early 2020, made just before and after Light Conductor tours with Spencer Krug and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the duo then culled from hours of tape and worked up these soundscapes during isolation 2020-21 (in between Lasek's other recording and mixing sessions for Godspeed's latest AT STATE'S END, Bell Orchestre's House Music, and his own The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings, among others). Light Conductor continues to convey an ineffable sense of meditative discovery and efflorescence on Sequence Two, as if the music was being played and unfolded for the first time: the genuine effect of these songs being sourced from marathon overnight sessions of live playing, marked by immersive, durational telepathy and semi-improvisation.

                                      The duo's psychogenic jams are then judiciously overlaid, usually with just one or two more elements, though for brief stretches becoming stacked and maximal - most notably towards the end of 14-minute album opener "Splitting Light" when an ever-refracted sequencer pattern inexorably develops towards throbbing cadence and multi-layered intertwining melodies, culminating in a final burst of guitar and vocal-driven operatic space-rock chug that invokes Yes, Spiritualized, and (choral) Bon Iver in equal measure (the only vocals on this otherwise instrumental album).

                                      Sequence Two indeed carries forth the prevailing energy of the duo's first album: "If the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey overshot the great apes and instead appeared before a mid-00s rock band" is not a bad way to put it (as Paul Blinov did in his Exclaim! review). The particular combination of restraint, luxuriation and repose that Light Conductor achieves is easier heard and absorbed than described - but it makes sense that this music is the dreamlike opalescent nebula of a duo whose respective psych/pop/electro/rock bands are known for more declaratively epic, chiselled, heavy sonic statements. The through line is an emotive devotional sensibility, seasoned by a naturalistic studio mastery, and love for the analog that enmeshes the electronic.

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      01 Splitting Light
                                      02 The Rooms Are Turning Inside Out
                                      03 Pyramids In Slow Rotation
                                      04 Life Under A Double Sun 

                                      Jerusalem In My Heart

                                      Qalaq

                                        One of the most renowned and uncompromising entities working in 21st century avant-garde Arab-Levantine art and music, Jerusalem In My Heart presents a new album of vital and haunting electronics and electroacoustics, framed by founder and producer Radwan Ghazi Moumneh’s spoken and sung Arabic, buzuk-playing and sound design. Qalaq is the most distilled, variegated and finely wrought Jerusalem In My Heart album to date – featuring a different guest/collaborator on every track, yet as cohesive, emotionally resonant, sonically adventurous and narratively powerful as any release in JIMH’s celebrated discography. Guests across the album's 13 tracks include Moor Mother, Tim Hecker, Lucrecia Dalt, Greg Fox, Beirut, Alanis Obomsawin, Rabih Beaini and many more.

                                        “Qalaq” is an Arabic word with many shades of meaning but Moumneh particularly intends it as “deep worry” – on various obvious global levels, but also specifically with respect to Lebanon: its collapsing domestic politics, economy and infrastructure; the tragedy and aftermath of the 2020 Beirut port explosion; the intractable geography and geopolitics that continue to condemn the country to corruption, disruption, destabilization and violence. Moumneh writes: “The Side Two tracks are all named ‘Qalaq’ and then numbered, representing the degrees of layered and complex violence that Lebanon and the Levant have reached in the last couple of years, from the complete and utter failure of the Lebanese sectarian state that has driven the economy to a grinding halt, to its disastrous handling of the migrant influx from neighbouring failed states, to the endemic corruption that led to the August 2020 port explosion, to the latest chapter of Palestinian erasure and yet another brutally asymmetrical and disproportionate bombing campaign on Gaza.”

                                        Qalaq is shaped by a "dismantled orchestra" of musical collaborations, forged through long-distance file exchange during lockdown winter 2020-21 (and the inverted companion to JIMH's previous 2018 full-length Daqa'iq Tudaiq, which featured a 15-piece orchestra recorded live in Beirut). Moumneh initially through composed Qalaq in purposely stark and skeletal form, then gave each guest artist a section to decompose, edit, re-interpret and recompose as they desired, working their stems back into his own mixes for each piece/section and moulding newfound coherences in the overall work. The result is The album artwork with a front cover colour photograph by Myriam Boulous capturing a scene during the Beirut October Revolution of 2019, back cover calligraphy by Krystian Sarkis, and inner sleeve photography of the Beirut port explosion aftermath by Tony Elieh further contextualizes the specificity and lamentations of Qalaq; the deep worry at its heart.

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        01 Abyad Barraq (w/ Greg Fox)
                                        02 Sa’at (w/ Alexei Perry Cox)
                                        03 Istashraqtaq (w/ Beirut)
                                        04 Tanto (w/ Lucrecia Dalt)
                                        05 ‘Ana Lisan Wahad (w/ Farida Amadou & Pierre-Guy Blanchard)
                                        06 Qalaq 1 (w/ Alanis Obomsawin & Diana Combo)
                                        07 Qalaq 2 (w/ Roger Tellier Craig)
                                        08 Qalaq 3 (w/ Moor Mother)
                                        09 Qalaq 4 (w/ Rabih Beaini)
                                        10 Qalaq 5 (w/ Oiseau-Tempête)
                                        11 Qalaq 6 (w/ VÍZ [Réka Csiszér])
                                        12 Qalaq 7 (w/ Tim Hecker)
                                        13 Qalaq 9 (w/ Mayss, Mazen Kerbaj, Sharif Sehnaoui & Raed Yassin) 

                                        Jason Sharp

                                        The Turning Centre Of A Still World

                                          Montréal saxophonist and electroacoustic composer Jason Sharp presents his third album on Constellation. The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic system. The Turning Centre... is a singular sonic exploration of human machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback.

                                          Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers. Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk. The album’s six main movements navigate a world where placid surfaces are always roiled and disquieted by a deeper inexorable gyre: the gravitational pull and tidal perpetuity of our bodies made of water, buffeted by terrestrial atmospheric pressures, wrung out by emotions, coursing with blood, sustained by breath, inescapably yearning for and returning to ground again and again. Sharp’s heartbeat literally courses through these compositions – while only occasionally surfacing as a clearly audible pulse or rhythm, it physically feeds into a spectrum of generative synthetic processes that help constitute and conduct the music.
                                          The immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic works on The Turning Centre… could sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.

                                          Sharp chose an unsparing time to commit to a rigorously solo practice: pandemic lockdown occurred just as the first studio sessions with sound engineer Radwan Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart, Matana Roberts, Suuns) were scheduled to begin. While much of the central architecture and several themes had already been constructed, Sharp found his isolation music marinating in a socially-distanced anxiety soup beyond all imagining, yielding some profoundly deeper flavours and hues. As the album attests: he more than stuck with it. With sessions rescheduled under covid protocols in Fall 2020, Moumneh captured Sharp at a peak of technical, technological, and intangibly expressive power.

                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                          Barry says: There are few releases on Constellation Records I don't like, so this was really either going to be something I liked or something I loved. Turns out it's the latter, and i'm pretty sure the thing that swung it was the modular synths. A huge all-encompassing wall of electronic drones and intricate, crystalline sound sculptures. It's towering but fragile, beautifully warm and overwhelming.

                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. Intro
                                          2. Unwinding Surrender
                                          3. Velocity Of Being
                                          4. Blossoming Rest
                                          5. Upwelling Hope
                                          6. Humility Of Pain
                                          7. Everything Is Waiting For You
                                          8. Outro

                                          T. Griffin

                                          The Proposal

                                            RIYL: Library Tapes, Deaf Center, The Books, Tied & Tickled Trio. The original score for the acclaimed feature-length artworld documentary by multi-disciplinary artist Jill Magid: an exploration of the contested legacy of the Mexican architect Luis Barragan and an art intervention in its own right. Griffin wrote, performed and recorded The Proposal soundtrack with an understated but wide-ranging electro-acoustic sensibility that organically compliments the film's enigmatic narrative and the discreet beauty of Barragan's architectural spaces. Various acoustic instruments combine with electronics, sampling and ambient treatments for an ever-shifting suite of musical vignettes across the album's thirteen tracks. Guest musicians include Matana Roberts, Reut Regev, Jim White (Xylouris White, The Dirty Three), Jason Ajemian (Helado Negro), and Sophie Trudeau and Timothy Herzog (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) – alongside Griffin's own contributions on multiple instruments, field recordings and production. Griffin weaves an iridescent musical tapestry, threading various genres with sublime thematic and atmospheric coherence, echoing Magid's contemplative, cerebral journey. The music also works enchantingly on its own as a subtly haunted, evocative and meditative album

                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                            Barry says: The Proposal is yet another perfectly weighted soundtrack by T Griffin, coming on the ever-reliable constellation records. Rich, organic basses and dissonant strings work around each-other atop a thickly textured bed of found sounds, flickering banjo and swimming, soaring atmospherics. An absolute triumph in terms of musical direction, and a perfect standalone piece in it's own right.

                                            TRACK LISTING

                                            01 Dearest Frederica (Opening The Proposal)
                                            02 Grass Horns For The Proposal Dinner
                                            03 Manufacture
                                            04 Copyright Implications
                                            05 Void Room And Reliquary
                                            06 St. Gallen
                                            07 Word Guitar
                                            08 The Jeweler
                                            09 Poised
                                            10 Architecture Of Noise
                                            11 The Nun With A Chipped Tooth
                                            12 As Ever
                                            13 Grass Horns For The Proposal Credits

                                            Fly Pan Am

                                            Frontera

                                              Soundtrack to the acclaimed multi-media dance work by Animals Of Distinction. Fly Pan Am have composed some of their most direct, visceral and immediately satisfying music for the acclaimed modern dance piece FRONTERA, by Montréal-based troupe Animals Of Distinction. Juxtaposing stern foreboding electronics and minimalist motoric avant-rock, the Frontera studio album superbly captures the bristling, sculpted, intensely evocative instrumental pieces the band developed in close conception and collaboration with the dancers. As the Frontera recordings demonstrate, this music also works powerfully and exceptionally well on its own: oscillating between tension and release; evoking open, anxious interzones and closed, claustrophobic spaces; conveying an overarching landscape of forbidden access, foreclosed movement, and the unfathomable multiplicities of trauma and resilience that occur under our dehumanising international apparatuses of inadmissibility and control. “Grid/Wall”, “Fences” and “Parkour” combine electronics and spartan four-piece avantrock that set bodies in alternately furtive and laboured motion.


                                              The pulsing synthetics and noise textures of the more overtly technetronic “Scanner”, “Scaling”, “Body Pressure” and “Frontier” pin bodies down, whether hiding in corners, crawling for cover, or exposed to the searchlights. Field recordings contributed by David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hiss Tracts, Set Fire To Flames) comprise some of the raw material here too. The Frontera album tracks faithfully to the narrative of the original work, where eight movements (featuring a company of 10 dancers) flow from controlled chaos and tensely choreographed kinetics to slow, wrenchingly austere set pieces.


                                              This tremendous multimedia performance—framed by the stark and peerless lighting design of United Visual Artists—is a discerning and deeply affecting meditation on borders and surveillance, resistance and separation, solidarity and cooperation; bodies blocked and restrained, monitored and pursued, hiding and escaping, yearning and overcoming. After touring as the live band for the FRONTERA dance production into early 2020, the pandemic brought further performance dates to an abrupt halt (along with Fly Pan Am’s own scheduled UK/EU tours, in support of their terrific 2019 comeback album C’est ça). But during an easing of lockdown restrictions in late summer, the band was able to convene with Constellation’s go-to producer Radwan Moumneh at the storied Hotel2Tango in Montréal to put this soundtrack to tape. We’re thrilled to present the soundtrack recording for one of the most moving multi-media works we witnessed last year.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              01 Grid / Wall
                                              02 Parkour
                                              03 Scanner
                                              04 Scaling
                                              05 Parkour 2
                                              06 Body Pressure
                                              07 Fences
                                              08 Frontier

                                              Godspeed You! Black Emperor

                                              G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END

                                              It's almost as if after naysaying for 25 years, GY!BE have proven that the car is indeed on fire, and resolutely driverless, resulting in one of their most unhurried and jubilant offerings yet. There are moments of spine-tingling beauty, coated in a lacquer of hazy field recordings and snappy militaristic percussion.

                                              As with a lot of their releases (including my “favourite album in the world ever”, Lift Yr Skinny Fists….), the pieces here are crafted from a number of sections and listed in parts, leading to a cohesive and developmental audio narrative, lurching from shadowy glitched shortwave radio noise to crashing waves of orchestral chaos. There are very few moments where you aren't overcome with emotion, it's as bold and as beautiful as anything they've ever done, and has rare moments of true joy. An unendingly superb outing, and a brilliant return for one of the greatest bands around.


                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                              Barry says: There’s a lot to be stressed about isn’t there? The ongoing climate crisis, an unprecedented pandemic and a worrying spate of governmental and social trends all coalescing into a time of undeniable reflection. It seems like GYBE would fit right in then, with cars on fire (and the lack of drivers therein) and the suchlike being canonically, their bag.

                                              It might come as a surprise then, that while the classic themes of corruption, capitalism and greed are sewn into the fabric of this Canadian dectet, the accompanying music in this case is (to these ears), wilfully jubilant.

                                              You’ll have to bear with me on the track titles, because much like the actual titles of confirmed ‘Best Album In The World’ (Barry, 2000 - present), ‘Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven’, the tracks here are broken down into their constituent parts, and named individually, and sequentially.

                                              We kick things off with the first side of the 12” for you vinyl folk or what I believe they call ‘Track One’ for the CD crowd. ‘A Military Alphabet…’ begins with the newly fired up shortwave radios (for any of you that don’t listen to Set Fire To Flames a lot / at all, a brilliantly immersive and perfectly transportive collage of found sound and radio hiss), and slowly morphs into a similarly textural swell of strings and slowly trembled guitar. It’s really very reminiscent of the growing militaristic stomp of ’09-15-00’, the introductory piece from their last LP before their long Hiatus, ‘Yanqui U.X.O’, and is an undeniably necessary dipping of the toes before the full-spectrum swell and spine-tingling weight of the rest of the piece kicks in. It’s on the final movement of this 20-minute opus that carries all of the weight of the previous, bringing with an almost unbelievable levity. It’s an ode to a lost world, and a mournful but resigned grasp at the vestiges of a crumbling society.

                                              ‘Fire At Static Valley’ (the first piece from the 10”, or ‘Track 2’) is a shimmering, minor-key walk through the crumbling ruins, with tenderly strummed guitars and the ever-present strings both pulled and plucked, lending a sense of airy ambience and momentum to the rumbling bass boom, and culminating in a nigh-dissonant treble-heavy scree. It’s beautiful and mournful in equal measure, perfectly offsetting the uncharacteristic jubilance of the opener’s final movement before beginning our next selection of radio chatter and crackling hiss.

                                              ‘Government Came’ begins once again with the whirring crackle and oscillating drone of shortwave radios before a towering bass boom rises from the riotous audio throng. This is soon joined by a noticeably majestic sounding distorted guitar and monolithic percussive swells, drenched in reverb and delay, and alternating between barely noticeable melody and barely noticeable anything else. It’s not long before this characteristic unease lifts into a cathartic and intoxicating melodic counterpoint, rising into what is possibly the thickest wall of sound I’ve ever heard from them (and I’ve heard a LOT), and ending in organic panned sweeps of breathy instrumentation (didgeridoo?), and meandering guitar.

                                              We end with the stunning ‘Our Side Has To Win (For D.H)’, an undeniably atmospheric number, rich with incidental harmonics and a perfectly balanced suggestion of exultation and resignation. Slow chord changes gently growing over a background of flickering strings and shimmering pizzicato.

                                              It’s an album that takes their rightful anger of the early years, their moments of latent melodicism and tentative unease and brings them into one entirely cohesive and triumphantly essential album. A stunning, devastating return for one of the greatest bands of all time.

                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              12a [20:22] A Military Alphabet (five Eyes All Blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First Of The Last Glaciers / Where We Break How We Shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)
                                              12b [19:48] “GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 KHz) / Cliffs Gaze / Cliffs’ Gaze At Empty Waters’ Rise / ASHES TO SEA Or NEARER TO THEE


                                              10a [5:58] Fire At Static Valley
                                              10b [6:30] OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.)

                                              Markus Floats

                                              Third Album

                                                Third Album is the Constellation debut from Montréal-based multi-disciplinary artist and musician/composer Markus Lake, an active force in the city’s DIY music community who’s been releasing synthetic audio works under the Markus Floats moniker over the past decade – alongside playing bass in wide range of punk, post-punk, experimental and Afrofuturist outfits (including Elle Barbara’s Black Space) and co-founding the local indie music space Drones Club. With a background in Jazz Performance and Electroacoustic Studies, Lake’s solo work is also guided by a painterly sensibility, and informed by a variety of conceptual interests: non-linear narrative composition; sonic simulacra and naturalizing the digital; poptimism vs avant-gardism; the attentive/ceremonial possibilities of 21st century ‘music for speakers’ (and headphones) in a culture of bombast, nostalgia, and immediate gratification.

                                                The music of Markus Floats might best be described as idiosyncratic aural Abstract Expressionism, where melodic gestures, sequenced pulses, atonal clusters and granulated textures are arranged like shapes and strokes of timbral hue and depth. Using primarily in-the-box midi instruments, along with a handful of samples and field recordings, Third Album is through-composed and atypically but unfailingly expressive – like ruminative action painting in sound. Synthetic notes and chords extrapolate in transitory semi-improvised harmonic and melodic themes, often 3 referencing organ sounds of alternately liturgical and souljazz resonance.

                                                The album combines a sort of incantatory, exploratory, desecrated dark lounge with more formal touchstones of electronic composition, where arpeggiators surface and recede amidst shifting drones, distortions and dissonances. The result is a highly original, succinct and lucid set of syntheticelectronic tracks that defies genre: brimming with ideas but not overworked; methodical and discreet but not unassuming or underplayed; deeply integrated in its own ineffable, evocative chronicle of colour, shape and space. Third Album is a wonderfully distinctive work of leftfield electronic composition and the most distilled music Markus Floats has recorded to date. (In concert, each Floats live performance is specific and unique: he combines his soundscapes with carefully selected spoken word recordings from the black literary canon.)

                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                Barry says: Markus Floats has all of the brittle electronics and terse atmospherics you'd expect from a CST records release, but goes much further into hypnotic, abstract sound design. Synth slowly blip, with lfo's gradually changing the character and key of the slowly delivered output. It's entrancing and exciting, and a really rewarding listen.

                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                01 Forward
                                                02 And Forward
                                                03 Again
                                                04 Always
                                                05 Moving
                                                06 Forward Always

                                                T. Gowdy

                                                Therapy With Colour

                                                  Therapy With Colour is the Constellation debut by Montréal-based producer and sound artist T. Gowdy, who has released three prior albums of exquisitely textured, predominantly ambient electronic music (most recently Pachira Aquatica via Shimmering Moods Records in 2019). His sublime audio/visual performances have featured at MUTEK (Montréal and Barcelona) and Spektrum (Berlin), alongside his ongoing work as an in-demand producer/engineer with over fifty album credits to date, including Suuns (Secretly Canadian), Ensemble (Fat Cat) and Ada Lea (Saddle Creek) to name just a few.

                                                  Therapy With Colour is Gowdy’s most sonically and conceptually acute solo work to date, inspired by experiments with the Nova Pro 100 Light and Sound Mind Machine (among the best-known home hypnosis ‘mind machine’ devices, first released in the late 1990s). For Gowdy, the ritualized therapeutic reprogramming of consciousness promised by this technology has two primary personal dimensions: “to explore psychological ‘debiasing’ and decorrelation of heteronormative narratives that exist within my familial, intimate and economic relationships; to let flow neutral communication with the self and others” and to circumvent the technical biases and temporal blockages endemic to digital audio workstations and the computer-based editing that governs production of most electronic music. The album’s five tracks are extracted from live, linear, real-time stereo recordings that have their origins in an audio/visual collaboration between Gowdy and light artist Laura Buckley (whose scanner artwork features on the album cover and packaging).


                                                  The music on Therapy With Colour is indeed meditative, but in a resolutely contemporary and highly engaging way, eschewing gauzy New Age or environmental music tropes and instead conveying the rigour and empiricism of controlled experiments. Consistent with theories of ‘mind machine’ brainwave synchronization, these tracks involve oscillating, shimmering Minimalist pulse and techno-adjacent rhythm that reward active listening, while working coequally as dissociative concentration music. Each of the five songs has a distinct vibe but constitute a deeply satisfying and cohesive flow. From the day Gowdy dropped this record on us a few months ago, devoid of context or background notes, we’ve probably listened to it more than anything else – not realizing we’d been self-medicating. But we can see everything so much more clearly now. 

                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  01 Therapy With Colour
                                                  02 Depse
                                                  03 Up CTRL
                                                  04 No Wave II
                                                  05 Excavating Air

                                                  Joyfultalk

                                                  A Separation Of Being

                                                    Free-thinking Nova Scotia composer, musician and visual artist Jay Crocker (aka JOYFULTALK) channels Minimalism, Japanese environmental music, Maghrebian rhythmic modes and other numinous folkways to create his most focused, vibrant work to date. Based on a monumental, kaleidoscopic graphic score, A Separation Of Being is translated from two-dimensional page to trans-dimensional aural life using an array of homemade instruments, crowned with a majestic string arrangement written by Crocker and performed by Polaris and Juno winner Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Destroyer). Visual scores often provoke ideas of openness, interpretation, improv and fluidity. JOYFULTALK's third album, and second for Constellation, is an altogether different beast.

                                                    This three-part suite is airtight; interlocking arcs of polyrhythmic deep groove and new minimalism roll out in spellbinding propulsion, the music gathering its warmth from the strings and its peculiarities from Crocker's bespoke instrumentation and analog clockworks. The separation of being here is not division or rupture, but buoyant freedom through conduction of circulatory energies, marked by flowing melodic rondos of gyrating strings and sonic pointillism. A Separation Of Being is a systems music feast for the heart and mind. And lest we forget the eyes: Crocker began developing 'The Planetary Music System', his particular methodology for visualized composition, in 2012. The score for A Separation Of Being is the pinnacle of his system to date. Impressive in scale and scope, this stunning 5'x10' mural (acquired by Nova Scotia's provincial Art Bank in 2019) features geometric multi-directional cycles of brightly-coloured, finely-detailed sound notation.




                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    A1 Part I • I've Got That Trans-dimensional Feeling Again.
                                                    A2 Part II • Pixelated Skin.
                                                    B1 Part III • Liquified Then Evaporated (33:20)

                                                    Rebecca Foon

                                                    Waxing Moon

                                                      Rebecca Foon, the composer and musician behind Saltland and Esmerine (and former longstanding member of Silver Mt. Zion) presents a new album entitled Waxing Moon. While best known as an incomparable cellist crafting textural soundscapes and instrumental chamber-rock in the aforementioned projects (and more recently recognized for her creative and organisational work as cofounder of Pathway To Paris), this new collection of songs finds Foon emphasizing piano and voice with striking intimacy and elegance, showcasing a captivating evolution in her always resplendent songwriting. The climate crisis has profoundly framed Foon's political and artistic life for many years now, and Waxing Moon finds her writing and singing her most arrestingly direct yet poetic words, tapping universal and personal heartbreak in both despair and hope.

                                                      With Waxing Moon, Rebecca sets side the Saltland moniker - her electronically-tinged string-centric project from the past five years - to release this more personal new work under her own name. The album's ten songs are predominantly minimal and delicate, immersive and hauntingly beautiful - with vocal-driven tracks booked-ended by piano-based instrumentals, along with one up-tempo guitar-driven number ("Wide Open Eyes") that closes out Side One. While piano figures most prominently on the record, Foon continues to play cello on several tracks, complemented by gentle touches from a close coterie of musical guests including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson) on acoustic and electric basses, Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor) on violin, Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) on electric guitar, and Patrick Watson as co-vocalist on the dreamlike "Vessels". Foon co-produced the album with Lasek at Montreal's Breakglass studio and it sounds glorious. Waxing Moon is Rebecca Foon's first eponymous release: a sublimely stunning, bracingly intimate, glimmeringly full-hearted new chapter in her celebrated musical catalog

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      A1 New World
                                                      A2 Pour
                                                      A3 Another Realm
                                                      A4 Ocean Song
                                                      A5 Wide Open Eyes

                                                      B1 Waxing Moon
                                                      B2 Dreams To Be Born
                                                      B3 Vessels
                                                      B4 This Is Our Lives
                                                      B5 New World Reprise

                                                      Land Of Kush

                                                      Sand Enigma

                                                        First album in 6 years from the acclaimed Arabic/Psychedelic avant-garde big band. Recorded/produced by Radwan Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart, Suuns, Matana Roberts) and with featured guest Nadah El Shazly. Renowned Montreal / Cairo composer Sam Shalabi returns with his exhilarating and utterly genre-bending big band Land Of Kush. The trenchantly-titled Sand Enigma bristles with defiant exuberance, restless creative energy, and electrifying cross-cultural expression - the band's most accomplished, acute and accessible album to date (though don't expect 'easy listening' from this boundary-pushing hydra-headed entity). Sand Enigma is a wildly diverse and hugely compelling tour de force of modern composition that pulses with emotion and experimentation, blending avant-garde, psychedelic, Middle Eastern, out-jazz, electronic, and improv/free music tropes to stunning effect.

                                                        The 75-minute opus captures a band on fire, flowing through composed set-pieces, improvisational turns, harmolodic gestural and textural interplay, bursts of fervent groove, and fearless, feral experimentation. While the bounty of heavy-hitting instrumental players are too numerous to call out here, Sand Enigma notably features two new Land Of Kush collaborators, both of them leading lights of Cairo's burgeoning avant-electronic scene: Nadah El Shazly and Maurice Louca. As Alan Bishop of Sublime Frequencies raves: "Shalabi raises the bar for modern psychedelic music with Land Of Kush, weaving a seamless montage of styles in a transcendent way that is rarely, if ever, achieved." As with previous works, the music on Sand Enigma shifts between instrumentals and vocal-led pieces, with various singers taking the lead on different songs including long-standing Kush members Elizabeth Anka Vajagic, Katie Moore, Elizabeth Lima and the newly drafted Tokyo-toMontréal émigré Maya Kuroki. Sand Enigma notably features two new international collaborators and leading lights of Cairo’s burgeoning avant-electronic scene: Nadah El Shazly (vocals) and Maurice Louca (keys/synths). 

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        1. Aha
                                                        2. Domyat 1331
                                                        3. Safe Space
                                                        4. Broken Maqams
                                                        5. Sand Enigma
                                                        6. Ssssss
                                                        7. Recuerdo
                                                        8. Bone Mass I
                                                        9. Bone Mass II
                                                        10. Bone Mass III
                                                        11. Ana
                                                        12. Trema
                                                        13. Dol
                                                        14. Tensor

                                                        Fly Pan Am

                                                        C’est Ça

                                                          C'est ça marks the reunion of Montreal avant-rock quartet Fly Pan Am, who released an acclaimed series of albums in Constellation's early years, from 1999-2004. The band's heady collision of motorik repetition, shoegaze maximalism, punk skronk, tape- and electronic-based interventions and audio sabotage, garnered them a cult following among fans of audaciously deconstructed post-rock. Fly Pan Am quietly reunited in late 2017 for purely artistic reasons (needless to say), to explore making new music together after more than a decade spent in pursuit of separate sonic adventures. Within weeks, it was clear the band was firing on all cylinders again, brimming with electricity and eager to pick up where they’d left off with their last album N’écoutez pas back in 2004: pushing further into full-spectrum intersections of noise pop, post-punk, power electronics and musique concrète, while continuing to incorporate shrouded, textural vocals as alternately melodic and visceral components.

                                                          C'est ça is a welcome return to form - an album of undeniably renewed vitality and experimentation where rock structures underpinned by J.S. Truchy's trademark rapid-fire bass and Felix Morel's disciplined, ascetic drumming are submerged beneath waves of processed guitar by Roger Tellier-Craig and Jonathan Parant, with fluorescent noise treatments and sonic vandalisms wrought by all four. Songs variously nod to key influences like MBV and Husker Du, the intrepid proto-Kosmiche of This Heat and Can, and later style-adjacent torchbearers like Boredoms, Flying Saucer Attack and Trans Am - all the while collapsing into/out of themselves in various ways. But Fly Pan Am have always and reliably been much more than the sum of their influences: C'est ca is terrific new collection of restless, conceptual, viscerally ethereal noise rock that could come from no other band, sparkling with the creative buzz of lifelong artistic intensity, dialogue and friendship

                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                          Barry says: I've been listening to C’est Ça for a couple months now and can tell you it is without a doubt the most Fly Pan Am of all of the Fly Pan Am releases. Clashing, punky art-rock, huge cavernous lurches of percussion, distorted guitars and post-punk grooves breaking through when you least expect it. A legendary band, and a truly triumphant return after FIFTEEN YEARS!

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          01 Avant-gardez Vous
                                                          02 Distance Dealer
                                                          03 Bleeding Decay
                                                          04 Dizzy Delusions
                                                          05 Each Ether
                                                          06 Alienage Syntropy
                                                          07 One Hit Wonder
                                                          08 Discreet Channeling
                                                          09 Interface Your Shattered Dreams 

                                                          Sandro Perri

                                                          Soft Landing

                                                            It took seven years for Sandro Perri to return with an album under his own name, releasing In Another Life ("his outsider pop masterpiece" - Exclaim) in the fall of 2018, as the much-anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed full-length Impossible Spaces (#38 album of 2011 at Pitchfork, among other accolades). But the Perri floodgates have now well and truly opened: the flow of sparkling, eddying music he's been meticulously doling out of late (including two recent volumes of collaborative avant-electronic work with his Off World project) charts another vital, rejuvenating tributary with Soft Landing. Rounding up songs he's been toying with for the better part of the last decade, Perri enters his third decade of music-making with this lovely, langourous collection of subtly detailed soft rock - his most guitar-based album since 2007's Tiny Mirrors.

                                                            Rightly celebrated as "one of the most singular producers in contemporary music" (Boomkat) for his widely varied electronic work, Perri's foundations as a guitarist have always factored into his 'solo' albums in one form or another. On Soft Landing, Perri's guitar is at the calm and expressively rambling heart of these tunes - while his recording and mixing acumen as a (self) producer is, as always, on brilliant display. "God Blessed The Fool" is a splendid stroke of sultry slow-burn soul that finds Sandro busting out his sweet falsetto; "Wrong About The Rain" channels only the choicest tropes of syncopated 70s-era soft-rock, with Perri weaving ornate guitar licks around a succulent interplay of clavinet and trap kit, resulting in one of the most immediately satisfying tunes he's ever put to tape - high praise for someone with such a stellar catalogue to date, but we're confident fans will agree. And as with last year's In Another Life (which comprised two album-length sides "infinite song'), Soft Landing includes the 16-minute track "Time (You Got Me)", an enchanted mid-tempo excursion anchored by a gently sliding guitar riff and a serene vocal singing a wistfully acquiescent love letter to the fourth dimension. Paced by congas, shakers, claves, impressionistic piano and even the occasional wind chime, Perri wraps up his final vocal refrain by the song's fifth minute and then steers the instrumental theme down a long and winding road in his inimitable style - like a stroll along a country lane where every glint of dappled sunlight catches another rustling, animate micro-detail. 

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            Barry says: Having written for me, one of the standout indie LP's of 2018, with 'In Another Life' and been a member of a number of standout acts and bands of the past 20 years (Polmo Polpo, Glissandro 70, Off-World), Sandro Perri is one of the few Constellation acts (though their roster is ever-changing and brilliantly fluid) to have achieved a crossover success into the indie rock mainstream. 'Soft landing is a perfect illustration why, clever and enthralling but without being too heavy on the ears. Top stuff.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            01 Time (You Got Me)
                                                            02 Floriana
                                                            03 God Blessed The Fool
                                                            04 Back On Love
                                                            05 Wrong About The Rain
                                                            06 Soft Landing

                                                            Lungbutter

                                                            Honey

                                                              Montreal trio Lungbutter serves up an exhilarating and relentless barrage of astringent noise-punk, at times refracted variously through sludge rock and slowcore. Kaity Zozula's tri-amped guitar squall occupies a huge tonal space from low-end bass to paint-peeling treble, redolent of blown-out Melvins/Flipper fuzz and indebted to the frenetic dissonance of Keiji Haino or Merzbow. Song structures coalesce around guitar riffs of shifting tempos and the backbone of Joni Sadler's muscular, deliberate drums, while Ky Brooks' wry phenomenological sing-speak vocals - at once mantric and declarative - deconstruct one brilliant lyrical theme after another, dancing along the knife-edge of dispassionate acerbic examination and wide-eyed cathartic revelation.

                                                              Brooks, Sadler and Zozula have all been mainstays of the vibrant experimental noise/rock milieu in the city for several years, having put in time as members of innumerable bands and community projects. Lungbutter has been their main jam for a while, playing frequently in Montreal and with sporadic excursions to DIY spaces around eastern North America. Honey is their first full-length album, following the self-released Extractor cassette EP from 2014, which Big Takeover described as ""hick neanderthal sludge, stream of consciousness yelps over lawnmower riffs, a dweeb-metal triumph" and Weird Canada praised as "confident, artful, intense". Lungbutter’s minimal guitar-drums-voice configuration is rooted in a visceral, ascetic punk idiom, refracted variously by free-noise, sludge rock and slowcore. Zozula marshals chaotic motifs of full-spectrum distorto-guitar, occupying a huge tonal space from low-end bass to paint-peeling treble,redolent of blown-out Melvins/Flipper fuzz and equallyindebted to the frenetic dissonance of Keiji Haino or Merzbow (as in the thrilling passages of warped noise on “Solar” or “Veneer”).

                                                              Song structures coalesce around guitar riffs of shifting tempos and the backbone of Sadler’s muscular, deliberate drums, while Brooks’ voice – at once mantric and declarative – deconstructs one brilliant lyrical theme after another, dancing along the knife-edge of dispassionate acerbic examination and wide-eyed cathartic revelation. Honey is 33 minutes of satisfyingly searing, sharp-as-tacks, scum-tainted art-rock from one of Montréal’s most vital, exciting and uncompromising bands. The LP includes multiple artwork inserts sourced from an original cover painting by Australian-born Montréal-based artist and graphic novelist Tommi Parrish (Fantagraphics, etc). 

                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              01.  Honey
                                                              02.  Solar
                                                              03.  Vile
                                                              04.  Flat White
                                                              05.  Bravo
                                                              06.  Henry Darger
                                                              07.  Intrinsic
                                                              08.  Maryland
                                                              09.  Depanneur Sun
                                                              10.  Curtain
                                                              11.  Veneer 

                                                              Siskiyou

                                                              Not Somewhere

                                                                Siskiyou returns from a four-year hiatus with Not Somewhere, which finds band leader Colin Huebert (ex-Great Lake Swimmers) essentially in solo mode, writing and self-recording this new collection on his own, playing just about everything himself. Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou's magical, understated 2010 debut in this and other ways: the album's production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication.

                                                                Huebert was commissioned by NYC artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a movie accompaniment to "The Happy Show" installation art project - ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert's own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the unadorned aesthetic of early , leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day. The result is a beautifully restrained and direct song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert's distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery.

                                                                Not Somewhere is delicate, discreet, and wonderfully assured - a humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Siskiyou. Huebert self-recorded and played almost everything himself, with contributions from guest musicians including cellist and labelmate Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Esmerine) and Destroyer regulars Joseph Shabason and JP Carter on horns and woodwinds. The result is a beautifully restrained and unvarnished song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures,spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert’s distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery. From the austere Velvets-chug of “What Ifs” to the Elephant 6-inspired looseness of “Her Aim IsTall” and “Stop Trying (jubilant reprise)” and the sparkling hush of atmospheric twilight folkinflected pieces like “Temporary Weakness” and “Silhouette”, Not Somewhere is delicate and discreet yet wonderfully assured – a profoundly humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Huebert’s Siskiyou project. 

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                01 Stop Trying
                                                                02 What Ifs
                                                                03 Temporary Weakness
                                                                04 The End II /// Song Of Joy
                                                                05 Untitled 32 (live Off Of The Land)
                                                                06 Dying Dying Dying /// Wake Wake Wake
                                                                07 Unreal Erections /// Severed Heads
                                                                08 Nothing Disease
                                                                09 Silhouette
                                                                10 Her Aim Is Tall
                                                                11 Stop Trying (jubilant Reprise)
                                                                12 Unreal Erections /// Severed Heads (alternate Outro) 

                                                                Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria

                                                                Are Sing Sinck, Sing

                                                                  Efrim Manuel Menuck, founding member of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Thee Silver Mt. Zion and Kevin Doria from Growing and Total Life, are now officially a duo. Menuck recruited Doria to help him translate his acclaimed 2018 album Pissing Stars from the studio to the stage, and the pair have been touring under the Efrim Manuel Menuck moniker for the pastyear (often with Doria’s latest solo project KGD opening the proceedings). They’ve also been co-writing piles of new material, diving deeper into whirling maximalist electronics,still shot through with Menuck’s incantatory singing awash in plaintive distortion and hope. Efrim Manuel Menuck & Kevin Doria are SING SINCK, SING presents the first volume of songs forged from this febrile and fertile merger: an antifa poetics of sound that unspools across five crushing, keening tracks driven by thick sweeping drones and ostinatos, battered by inscrutably searching, ricocheting vocals. Anguish,yearning, and desperate conviction combine in these saturated survivalist electro-hymns, for as long as the power stays on to overload the amplifiers

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  A1. Do The Police Embrace?
                                                                  A2. Fight The Good Fight
                                                                  B1. A Humming Void An Emptied Place
                                                                  B2. Joy Is On Her Mount And Death Is At Her Side
                                                                  B3. We Will

                                                                  Deadbeat & Camara

                                                                  Trinity Thirty

                                                                    Trinity Thirty is a celebration and reinterpretation of the much beloved Cowboy Junkies classic The Trinity Session, on the occasion of the album’s 30th anniversary (originally released in late 1988). The idea was spawned when Berlin-based Canadian producer Scott Monteith — best known as DJ and dub-inflected minimal techno-electronica recording artist Deadbeat — heard the Junkies’ Trinity version of “Sweet Jane” playing in an airport a few years back. Viscerally reminded of how much he loved the album, and how surprisingly overground the record ended up becoming (in fact by mid-1989 The Trinity Session would be certified Platinum in both Canada & The USA truly another era), Monteith immediately reached out to the band to ask if they had anything planned for its 30th birthday (the Junkies had previously commemorated the album on the occasion of its 20th anniversary by re-recording it as Trinity Revisited).

                                                                    Before Monteith even touched down back in Berlin, the band had replied that same day saying they had no such plans but would enthusiastically support whatever angle Monteith/Deadbeat might want to run with. Monteith then recalled conversations with musician/producer and fellow Canadian-in-Berlin Fatima Camara (whose acclaimed debut solo album Before We Sleep came out on Parachute Records in 2016) about their shared love of The Trinity Session, feeling she’d be the perfect partner to involve in a reinterpretation. Camara was thrilled by the idea, and the two began meeting to explore how to approach things conceptually and aesthetically. This would be their first collaboration – and their first time placing their own vocals at the forefront of a project (joined by guest vocalist Caoimhe McAlister to add harmonies on certain tracks). The Trinity Session is rightly celebrated for its naturalistic, profoundly languorous covers of classic tunes and traditional work songs (“Sweet Jane”, “Blue Moon”, “Mining For Gold”, et al) – and is also legendary for having been recorded with a single microphone in single takes at a church in Toronto, with no further mixing or overdubbing. While Deadbeat and Camara couldn’t entirely replicate this approach as a duo, for Trinity Thirty they similarly re-recorded everything with single mics in a big open space at Berlin’s Chez Cherie studio, relying heavily on natural room acoustics, committed to raw first takes, guided by an overriding strategy of slowing down all the tempos as far as they could while continuing to channel the warm asceticism of the original album.

                                                                    Initially imagining they would run a fair amount of electronic treatments during the mix, Deadbeat and Camara instead found themselves absorbed by the spaces and silences, guided by a spirit of preservation and restraint, in homage to the original. The result is “a less electronic album than we imagined making”: a gorgeous somnambulant collection of ‘covers of covers’, where the reference point is always the Cowboy Junkies original approach, stretched to new and beguiling limits of deceleration and narcotized spaciousness – a sensibility further reinforced by the mastering treatment of minimalist dub-techno legend Stefan Betke (~scape, Pole). Trinity Thirty is a wonderfully languid, subtly avant-garde, conceptually reverent acoustic-meets-electronic interpretation of this classic album. 

                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    01 Mining For Gold
                                                                    02 Misguided Angel
                                                                    03 Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)
                                                                    04 I Don’t Get It After Midnight (Medley)
                                                                    05 I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
                                                                    06 To Love Is To Bury
                                                                    07 Dreaming My Dreams With You
                                                                    08 200 Miles
                                                                    09 Working On A Building
                                                                    10 Postcard Blues
                                                                    11 Sweet Jane

                                                                    Joni Void

                                                                    Mise En Abyme

                                                                      Mise En Abyme is the second full-length by Joni Void, the avant-electronica project of France/Canada producer Jean Cousin, following his acutely accomplished and acclaimed 2017 debut album Selfless (#8 Experimental Album of 2017 at Pitchfork). Consistent with Selfless, the primary materials for the sample-based cut-up songcraft on Mise En Abyme are Cousin's recordings of the voices of various friends. His self-professed body/voice dysmorphia, social disphoria, and search for the disembodied-yet-emotional transcendent subject, continues to compel the use of other (predominantly non-verbal) voices in the construction of these sublimely affecting electronic-minimalist compositions.

                                                                      Mise En Abyme is markedly more introspective and meditative than its predecessor, explicitly in search of intimacy and recuperative beauty. Grappling with a cascade of heartbreaks and discontinuities over the past year, Cousin also calls the new album a "time-travel experiment", as he culls sounds from devices and sources spanning childhood to the to retrieve and reframe subjective memories, histories and "regressions through former selves" via immersion in the evocative potential of the mostly wordless voices of others. The resulting song cycle is a remarkable blend of conceptual abstraction and highly emotive warmth, interiority, humanity and specificity.




                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      01 Paradox
                                                                      02 Dysfunctional Helper
                                                                      03 Lov-ender
                                                                      04 Abusers
                                                                      05 Non-dit
                                                                      06 No Reply
                                                                      07 Safe House
                                                                      08 Cinetrauma
                                                                      09 Voix Sans Issue
                                                                      10 Deep Impression
                                                                      11 Persistence
                                                                      12 Resolve 

                                                                      Eric Chenaux

                                                                      Slowly Paradise

                                                                        Eric Chenaux makes conceptual music that’s not meant to sound conceptual. He operates among various ‘traditions’ but perhaps most broadly, Chenaux’s records grapple with the relationship between improvisation and structure in very particular, unique, idiosyncratic ways – and quite without irony or cynicism, through love. Because fundamentally, Chenaux writes love songs, which he sings in a voice honeyed and clear, while his guitar gently bends, frazzes, chortles, diverges and decomposes.

                                                                        This juxtaposition of his mellow, dexterous crooning and his highly experimental (and equally dexterous) guitar explorations, explodes even unconventional notions of singing and accompaniment, of tonal and timbral interplay between guitar and voice. As a solo artist, Chenaux’s improvisation methods are in certain literal ways solipsistic: as a singer-songwriter, he plays his guitar around and against his voice, challenging easy notions of harmony/harmoniousness, improvising ‘with himself’ in pursuit of surprising himself (and his listeners) as he unfurls ribbons of voice and instrument often to the point of seeming independence, all the better to capture – and be captured by – unforeseen, intimate moments of interdependence: a definition of freedom, as a profoundly intentional state of openness, presence and play.

                                                                        Even within avant-garde currents of folk and jazz balladry, Eric Chenaux feels like an outlier. Yet his music remains wonderfully warm, generous and fundamentally accessible in spite of its irrefutable iconoclasm. Slowly Paradise is Eric Chenaux’s new solo record. It is a lovely collection of mostly long songs guided by soothing, buttery singing and bent, fried fretwork. It is arguably Chenaux’s most assured and essential solo work, building on the critical acclaim his previous releases Guitar & Voice and Skullsplitter have rightly garnered. 

                                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                                        01 Bird & Moon
                                                                        02 Slowly Paradise
                                                                        03 An Abandoned Rose
                                                                        04 Slowly Paradise (Lush)
                                                                        05 There's Our Love
                                                                        06 Wild Moon

                                                                        Esmerine

                                                                        Mechanics Of Dominion

                                                                          "What distinguishes Esmerine from so many artists skirting the overlaps between new folk and chamber music-style arrangements is the attention to composition and content. Esmerine wrap mood around substance." The Wire // Following the Turkish collaboration of Dalmak (awarded the 2014 Juno for Instrumental Album Of The Year} and the more rock-inflected Lost Voices (2016 Juno nominee for Instrumental Album and winner for Album Package Of The Year}, Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary "Freelancer on the Front Line" (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings.

                                                                          Sessions for the film soundtrack provided various seeds for a new album concept and composing/recording continued rolling into early 2017, informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination and the ever-accelerating degradation / denial of nature and social justice. Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion took shape with mallet instruments brought more to the fore (relative to Esmerine’s previous two outings): marimba, piano and amplified music box provide a more prominent through-line on this new album's otherwise quite diverse material. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's contributions also continue to shape Esmerine's songwriting to an ever greater extent – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are bracing, compelling elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this new song cycle. And the album revisits and further develops two previously recorded and heretofore unreleased pieces (the origins of the modernist piano, string and horn piece "Northeast Kingdom" date back to some of Esmerine’s earliest recordings in the mid-2000s; the sizzling free-improv of "¡Que Se Vayan Todos!" was captured during the Dalmak sessions.)

                                                                          Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-driven work, tracing an arc through Neo/Post--Classical, Minimalism, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Jazz, Baroque and Rock idioms to paint a soundtrack of lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is Esmerine’s humble requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world. Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative example of Esmerine's acclaimed and award-winning dedication to album artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montreal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis in beautiful resonance with the album's balance of stylistic tensions and emotional colourations. Thanks for listening. 

                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: A late contender for my album of the year chart here from the ever-reliable Constellation. Their last outing, Dalmak' was full of their usual simmering chamber-rock vibes, but infused with an eastern twist, whilst this is an altogether more sombre affair. More along the lines of Aurora, or 'If Only A Sweet Surrender..', Constellation are on one hell of a roll.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1 The Space In Between
                                                                          2 La Lucha Es Una Sola
                                                                          3 La Pénombre
                                                                          4 La Plume Des Armes
                                                                          5 Que Se Vayan Todos!
                                                                          6 Mechanics Of Dominion
                                                                          7 Northeast Kingdom
                                                                          8 Piscibus Maris

                                                                          Once again, I heard the announcement, got excited and (not so patiently) waited. I guess I should be grateful that the time between announcement and release is exponentially smaller with most of Constellation's releases, this one even more so. Godspeed You! Black Emperor have returned for the first time since 2015's 'Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress' with the monolithic behemoth that is 'Luciferian Towers'. From the very first moments of 'Undoing A Luciferian Towers' we get the richly evocative post-apocalyptic tremolo they've become so well known for, which slowly and purposefully grows, turning and writhing into a twisted mass of spine-tingling euphoria and tentative glimmers of light. I'm not entirely sure how reasonably simple chord changes can become such overwhelming tectonic shifts, but the evidence is plain for all to see, all encompassing darkness takes it's hold before bursting out into a repeated melodic refrain, soaring above the unearthly drone.

                                                                           As we move into the spellbinding trio of 'Bosses Hang' (parts 1-3) we start with a shuddering violin double-stop, shortly joined by a powerfully distorted, soaring single-note guitar riff, rising into a cataclysmic chaos that only GYBE can achieve. It is both meditative and overwhelming, and a whole world of contrasting adjectives reserved for bands that deserve them. Part two once again takes this quiet-loud formula but swaps out the reasonably lucid quiet section for a more unwieldy bowed maelstrom, keeping the soaring crescendo constrained within the confines of atonal chaos. Once again, a testament to the balance required to keep up this sort of fine-tuning of musicality and disarray, whilst retaining the spine-tingling highs of which we've become so fond.

                                                                           Fam_Famine once again hints at the repeated phrase suggested throughout this whole collection, with swells of string pushing through the fragmented patchwork of simmering drone below, glimmering glimpses of hope in an otherwise damned existence, acting as a superb counterpoint to the resolutely melancholic and stunningly beautiful closer of 'Anthem For No State'. Soaring tremolo weighted by off-kilter melodic bursts remind me in no small way of the (admittedly less frequent) glimpses of sunshine in 'Sings Reign Rebuilder', brought to earth with the static hum of the stunning Hiss Tracts LP, 'Shortwave Nights'.

                                                                          Comparing GY!BE to anyone else is in essence, fruitless. This is where it came from, and this is a concise and spine-tingling distillation of everything Godspeed ever were, and have recently become. It's a breathtaking and transportative wonder, brimming with melody, but balanced with an unmistakeable experimentation that only GY!BE can pull off. Stunner.



                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          1 Undoing A Luciferian Towera
                                                                          2 Bosses Hang
                                                                          3 Fam/Famine
                                                                          4 Anthem For No State

                                                                          Do Make Say Think

                                                                          Stubborn Persistent Illusions

                                                                          Constellation Records are an important label, they have a host of massively important artists on their roster spawned from another massively important band, and a whole host that weren't. It's an epic and fascinating story which could easily be stretched into a dissertation. Maybe you'd do it better than I did.

                                                                          Point being, if you haven't heard the bands, you should. If you have, you won't want to hear any of this again, so i'll focus on the music. This is Do Make Say Think's first album since 2009's 'Other Truths', and seventh outing to date. DMST (as they shall hereafter be known to spare another 12k words) create tapestries of sound encompassing aspects of modern-classical, post-rock, jazz, drone and anything else you could name. Their compositions are the exponentially blooming result of boolean logic, exploding one way or the other, with infinite cycles of possibilites, and infinite fields of influence. Take opener 'War On Torpor', for example. Brimming with mystery from the opening dusty tape-saturated guitar and hi-passed rolling percusision, it quickly but succinctly develops into crescentic rock territory before switching out elements almost imperceptibly into a cascade of rhythm and heart-wrenching highs, developed with intent but doomed to stutter out once again. Follower, 'Horripilation' rises like a grooving, writhing phoenix from the ashes, fielding a tinny reverbed guitar and dusty ambience before rolling gracefully around the rhythmic guitar counterpoint and majestic anthemic highs of the mid-section and grooving mind-expanding psychedelic swoons of the latter third. It's a journey, and something you have to believe in. It might not be a standard verse/chorus affair but trust them, they know what they're doing.

                                                                          The brittle duo of 'Bound' and 'And Boundless' are at once a statement of beauty and a stunning cascade of doubt, bringing together affirming spine-tingling instrumental heft and majestic constructions (Bound) together with skittering pointilism and gothic ambient interludes, minor-key wandering progression and foggy echoed fields. All this before pulling out the undeniable optimism of 'Her Eyes On The Horizon', based around guitar and bass, and minimal percussives. A complete antithesis of everything that has come before it, and only suggested at in everything that comes after.

                                                                          Every piece on here is more than worthy of mention, and no less important to the story than the one preceding it, but in the interests of brevity i'll refrain from listing all of their nuances. It is safe to say however, that Do Make Say Think continue to be as important to music as they ever were, and their continuing innovation and experimentation. It is jazz that doesn't wander, it is instrumental music that speaks, it is delicate but bold experimental rock, it sounds like every band they've ever been compared to, and every band they haven't. A dichotomic juxtaposition in every sense and a brittle, beautiful, towering mountain. 


                                                                          STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                          Barry says: Soaring instrumentals, jagged breakdowns, stunning ambience and grooving psychedelic twists. Bright and beautiful but unendingly complex rhythms, forged through melodies played a thousand times but executed like nothing you've ever heard. From the chamber-rock clanging of “War On Torpor”, to the euphoric post-rock classicism of “Return, Return Again”, this is perfection.

                                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                                          01 War On Torpor
                                                                          02 Horripilation
                                                                          03 Murder Of Thoughts
                                                                          04 Bound
                                                                          05 And Boundless
                                                                          06 Her Eyes On The Horizon
                                                                          07 D=3.57√h (As Far As The Eye Can See)
                                                                          08 Shlomo's Son
                                                                          09 Return, Return Again

                                                                          Joni Void

                                                                          Selfless

                                                                            A selftaught musician making tracks since he was 14 years old and living in Lille, France, Cousin moved to Montréal in 2012 to pursue Film Studies. He plunged into the city’s fertile DIY/loft scene and in a spirited transformation, evolved from cloistered bedroom/virtual persona to highly engaged organizer and performer. Cousin has selfreleased a cavalcade of original albums and remixes since 2011; Selfless is his debut release on a record label. Cousin’s earliest records, made as a teenager, combine piano and field recordings, inspired by the film soundtracks of Jon Brion, Philip Glass and Yann Tiersen and the sample worlds as Boards Of Canada, The Books, Four Tet and Burial.

                                                                            An increasing obsession with micro-sampling, aleatory composition, history of cinema and the techniques of foley and film sound editing – along with an increasingly active practice of remixing and beat-making – has seen Cousin’s music flourish in fascinating ways. Perhaps most importantly, Cousin now constructs his tracks entirely from found sources and aims not to ‘play’ anything at all. His personal hero Delia Derbyshire (White Noise; the early years of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) cemented his commitment to making musique concrète avant-pop inspired by these analog tapebased
                                                                            pioneers.

                                                                            Selfless is an exploration of catharsis and the escape from entrapments of subjectivity and solipsism, guided by Cousin’s renunciation of any ‘original’ playing or recording of his own, while celebrating intimate community and inter-subjectivity through solicitation of private voice recordings from close friends: Natalie Reid recites her own poem on the hypnotic “Observer (Natalie’s Song)”; Ogun Afariogun (aka Tide Jewel) contributed a freestyle rap recorded and sent by phone on “Yung Wether (Ogun’s Song)”; Ayuko Goto (aka Noah) provided a sound file of whispers for “Empathy (Ayuko’s Song)”; “Dissociation (Kyla’s Song)” is entirely constructed of vocals by Kyla Brooks (aka Nag). The rest of the album’s 12 songs explore a gamut of strategies ranging from the textural, beatless, Satie-inflected opener “Song Siènne” to the pulsing ambientindustrial techno of “Cinema Without People” and “Abjection”, and the kinetic, deconstructed IDM-electronica of “Aesthetics Of Disappearance” and “Agnosia”. 

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            01 Song Siènne
                                                                            02 Observer (Natalie's Song)
                                                                            03 Doppler
                                                                            04 Empathy (Ayuko's Song)
                                                                            05 Aesthetics Of Disappearance
                                                                            06 Désolé (Pardon The Interruption)
                                                                            07 Cinema Without People
                                                                            08 Yung Werther (Ogun's Song)
                                                                            09 Abjection
                                                                            10 Disassociation (Kyla's Song)
                                                                            11 Agnosia
                                                                            12 Deaf (No More Songs)

                                                                            Off World, Automatisme, Jason Sharp

                                                                            Constellation Fall 2016 Bundle

                                                                              Three new releases vinyl albums bundled together at one very special price!!

                                                                              Off World - 1
                                                                              Automatisme - Momentform Accumulations
                                                                              Jason Sharp - A Boat Upon Its Blood

                                                                              Jason Sharp has been a fixture of Montréal's experimental/improv scene for many years, chiefly as a saxophonist exploring drone and durational music, while also collaborating in a wide variety of jazz, avant and contemporary music ensembles. His work as a composer, conductor and band leader in his own right is now featured on A Boat Upon Its Blood, the first album-length recording to be released under his own name: a bracingly meditative multi-movement instrumental work that charts a highly compelling arc of shifting energies and intensities. Using custom-built equipment to translate breath and heart rate into variegated sonic triggers, along with other modes of signal processing and in tandem with traditional instrumentation, the album features Sharp's own reed playing with contributions from a few guest musicians on pedal steel guitar, violin and various percussion. Recorded by Thierry Amar (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Vic Chesnutt) at the Hotel2Tango in Montréal and mixed and mastered by Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Drip Audio Records), A Boat Upon Its Blood is a genre-defying album with a highly immersive and satisfying sound palette that impels deep listening and demands to be taken in as a whole. Constellation is thrilled to present Jason Sharp as a unique and invigorating new voice in modern-contemporary music. 

                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                              Barry says: Terse repeated patterns, droning chamber-classical strings and metallic reverbs are thrust together with waveshaped synth lines, visceral evolving patterns and crackly field recordings. Electronic loops are woody and hollow, topped off with industrial hits and melancholic swirls. Absorbing, and demanding of your attention, this is one to get stuck into when no-one else is around. Disarmingly real, and alarmingly deep.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              01 A Boat Upon Its Blood Pt. 1
                                                                              02 A Boat Upon Its Blood Pt. 2
                                                                              03 A Boat Upon Its Blood Pt. 3
                                                                              04 In The Construction Of The Chest, There Is A Heart
                                                                              05 A Blast At Best
                                                                              06 Still I Sit, With You Inside Me Pt. 1
                                                                              07 Still I Sit, With You Inside Me Pt. 2 

                                                                              Radwan Ghazi Moumneh returns with a second full-length album from his acclaimed Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH) project, conceived and recorded in his dual homes Montréal and Beirut. Known for his production and engineering work with artists as diverse as Matana Roberts (all 3 chapters of her Coin Coin recordings to date), Aids Wolf, Ought, Eric Chenaux and Suuns. Moumneh has been firing on all cylinders over the past few years.

                                                                              He has brought JIMH to mesmerized live audiences in Canada, Europe and the Middle East since the release of his first album in 2013, following many years during which the project was a strictly Montréal-based live/theatrical happening. While JIMH continues to expand to includealarger cast of players for select engagements and commissions, the group is currently animmersive and performative audio-visual duo at its core, with Moumneh responsible for all sound / composition and filmmaker Charles-André Coderre creating 16mm visuals and live projections/installations . Moumneh expands his compositional palette on If He Dies, If If If If If If, exploring new deconstructions and juxtapositions of both traditional and popular Arab musical currents, with an album that oscillates between powerfully emotive vocal tunes and instrumental works that primarily make use of Radwan's expressive acoustic playing on buzuk and zurna as a point of departure.

                                                                              “A daring act brimming with promise.” – Tinymixtapes. 
                                                                              “[JIMH] has a mature and unbridled energy that defies classification, and I cannot recommend it enough.” – A Closer Listen.
                                                                              "Compelling, confounding, deeply moving." – All Music Guide. 


                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              01 Al Affaq, Lau Mat, Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau Lau (The Hypocrite, If He Dies, If If If If If If)
                                                                              02 A Granular Buzuk
                                                                              03 7ebr El 3oyoun (Ink Of The Eyes)
                                                                              04 Qala Li Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa Kafa (To Me He Said Enough Enough Enough...)
                                                                              05 Lau Ridyou Bil Hijaz? (What If The Hijaz Were Enough?)
                                                                              06 Ah Ya Mal El Sham (Oh The Money Of Syria)
                                                                              07 2asmar Sa7ar (The Brown One Cast A Spell)
                                                                              08 Ta3mani; Ta3meitu (He Fed Me; I Fed Him)

                                                                              Godspeed You! Black Emperor (GYBE) returns with its first single LP-length release since the group's earliest days in 1997-99. ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ clocks in at a succinct 40 minutes and is arguably the most focused and best sounding recording of the band’s career.

                                                                              “If Godspeed around the turn of the millennium felt like a band of the moment, now, in a time of rapid cultural turnover and bite-sized music consumption, they feel out of step in a very necessary way.” – PITCHFORK. 

                                                                              “This Montreal collective still sound like nothing else…The Godspeed ethos of wordlessly eliciting universal truths remains as devastatingly effective as ever.” – THE GUARDIAN. 


                                                                              Working with sound engineer Greg Norman (Electrical Audio) at studios in North Carolina and Montréal, GYBE slowly and steadily put the new album together through late 2013 and 2014, emerging with a mighty slab of superlative sonics, shot through with all the band’s inimitable signposts and touchstones: huge unison riffage, savage noise/drone, oscillating overtones, guitar vs. string counterpoint, inexorable crescendos and scorchedearth transitions.

                                                                              Following Godspeed’s return from a long hiatus at the end of 2010 to begin playing live shows again, and with the hugely acclaimed ‘Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! release in 2012 marking their first new release in a decade, the group continued to perform regularly on their own headlining tours (and as headliners at many leading festivals), often including a new multi-movement piece in concert over the past couple of years.

                                                                              Known to fans and through live show recordings by the sobriquet “Behemoth”, GYBE has gradually distilled this new work down to a fastidious and uncompromising essence in the studio, with the swing-time swagger of the opening unison riff in “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’” giving way to increasing microtonal divergences and an exhilarating immersion in the harmonic power of massed amplified instruments, before collapsing into some of the most visceral and unalloyed noise/drone the band has yet committed to tape on “Lambs’ Breath” and “Asunder, Sweet”.

                                                                              The album closes with “Piss Crowns Are Trebled”, a 14-minute piece of vintage Godspeed, where ascending and descending guitar and violin melodies intertwine over gut-rattling distorted bass in 3/4 time, segueing into a pummeling four-on-the-floor series of sparkling, soaring crescendos. ‘Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress’ finds Godspeed in top form; a sterling celebration of the band’s awesome dialectic, where composition, emotion and ‘note-choice’ is inextricable from an exacting focus on tone, timbre, resonance and the sheer materiality of sound.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Peasantry Or ‘Light! Inside Of Light!’
                                                                              2. Lambs' Breath
                                                                              3. Asunder, Sweet
                                                                              4. Piss Crowns Are Trebled

                                                                              Siskiyou returns with Nervous, a majestic album of carefully constructed art rock built around songwriter and lead singer Colin Huebert's stacked acoustic guitars and intimate, whispery vocals. Siskiyou’s sound has been previously dubbed a sort of ‘Northern Gothic’, conjuring cold winds and the life-saving warmth of temporary shelters and tiny hearth fires. With Nervous, the band continues to push beyond the crisp lo-fi intimacy of its early work, and has forged its most confident and finely-crafted recording to date, moving fully into auteur and chamber-pop territory with a song cycle that brings to mind the meticulousness of mood and sonics found in recent work by PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tindersticks. Inflected by an anxious, sussurant restraint, Huebert's voice is supported by the falsetto backing vocal counterpoint and economical instrumentation of bandmates Erik Arnesen, Peter Carruthers and Shaunn Watt. Fans of the understated and underrated 1990s group Swell may also hear a welcome evocation of that group's acoustic guitar-driven simplicity and austere deployment of adornments.

                                                                              Following Siskiyou's excellent sophomore release Keep Away The Dead in 2011, Huebert became afflicted with a serious inner ear condition that eluded conventional diagnosis. While honouring a previously scheduled songwriting residency in Dawson City, Yukon in winter 2012, Huebert found himself grappling with severe anxiety and an unwelcome interiority, engendered by hyperacusis and a house that felt utterly haunted. Intense chronic ear-ringing and panic attacks continued throughout the year, for which conventional medicine was unable to find any cause or effective treatment; Huebert began focusing on meditation, retreated to silence for a period, and then began rehearsing his new songs with the band at extremely low volumes. The songs on Nervous are shot through with the entirety of this experience: the literal feeling of being trapped in one's head and the physical-psychological feedback loop of debilitating anxiety; the lyrical themes and tense, whispered singing amidst tightly-wrought compositions and arrangements.

                                                                              Huebert found solace in new working methods within the controlled environment of studio-based production and composition, developing new sonic palettes and pursuing new avenues of instrumental arrangement and recording fidelity. Working with producer/engineer Leon Taheny (Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy, Dusted, Austra) on most of Nervous, Siskiyou has emerged with by far its most assured, ambitious and authoritative recordings, while preserving the economy of elements, deft structures, and assiduous melodic deliberation for which the band has been rightly celebrated over its two previous albums. In charting escape paths from his disquieting cranial confinement, Huebert has very much succeeded in setting his songs out on an expansive canvas, while preserving a palpable sense of nervous interiority and quiet desperation at their heart.

                                                                              Nervous includes contributions from guest musicians Colin Stetson, Owen Pallett, JP Carter, Ryan Driver and the St. James Music Academy Senior Choir, among others. The album features original artwork by Michael Drebert.

                                                                              STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                              Barry says: This is on Constellation records. They have a lot of violins at Constellation towers, violas, violettes, violums etc. They released GY!BE (and GYBE!, strangely) , they excel at all forms of bombastic bleak chamber-classical. This is a different prospect altogether. Like a cross between the Arcade Fire and Nick Cave, these are brilliantly crafted alt-rock pieces, pained but hopeful vocals over trad-band (i.e not 14 people) setup. Textured but not jarring, acoustic in parts and constructed as a pop song would be. 'I am a wasted genius' he sings over swooning organs and morose acoustic guitar. Yes you are Colin, yes you are.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Deserter
                                                                              2. Bank Accounts And Dollar Bills (Give Peace A Chance)
                                                                              3. Wasted Genius
                                                                              4. Violent Motion Pictures
                                                                              5. Jesus In The 70's
                                                                              6. Oval Window
                                                                              7. Nervous
                                                                              8. Imbecile Thoughts
                                                                              9. Babylonian Proclivities
                                                                              10. Falling Down The Stairs

                                                                              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.

                                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                                              1. Faint Praise (3:24)
                                                                              2. Second Skin (5:42)
                                                                              3. The Pit (Part 1) (7:30)
                                                                              4. The Pit (Part 2) (2:15)
                                                                              5. Sharm El Bango (4:22)
                                                                              6. Mobil Nil (5:47)
                                                                              7. St Stefano (4:34)
                                                                              8. Drift Beguine (6:41)
                                                                              9. The Big Mango (6:48)

                                                                              Siskiyou

                                                                              Keep Away The Dead

                                                                                2nd album by the group led by Colin Huebert and Erik Arnesen, former and current members of Great Lake Swimmers respectively. 

                                                                                Even as Siskiyou's first record was delivered to Constellation in early 2010 and getting prepped for release that fall, Colin Huebert remained holed up in Mara, BC (pop. 350) through the winter, writing more songs and eventually being joined by his Siskiyou co-conspirator Erik Arnesen for a few weeks of intensive recording. Unlike the material on their eponymous debut, which was largely recorded in nomadic fashion while Colin and Erik toured as members of Great Lake Swimmers, the Mara, BC sessions found the pair settled, rooted and with keys in hand to the century-old Mara Community Hall. Most of the tunes on 'Keep Away The Dead' were born at Mara Hall, where bed tracks were laid down in the crisp air during depth of winter. The arctic atmosphere of that empty, cavernous, hardwood structure was the perfect complement to Huebert's sensibility: a tense and acute restraint; a shivering, biting, sometimes bitter rending of barebones, folk-inflected rock music. (Neil Young remains a clear touchstone – overtly so with the album's cover of "Revolution Blues" – as do the pointed, starkly controlled arrangements and textures of contemporaries like Angels Of Light.)

                                                                                Huebert left Mara in spring 2010 and moved to Vancouver, where Siskiyou began to take shape as a full band with the addition of Shaunn Watt and Peter Carruthers. Coming off a season of extensive touring in Euope and Canada in fall 2010, Siskiyou had coalesced into an incisivie quartet and hit Vancouver's JC/DC Studio in early 2011 with engineer David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers), adding to the previous year's Mara sessions and cutting two more tunes for which Carswell ran the mix: "Twigs And Stones" and "Revolution Blues”. Huebert recorded and mixed the remainder of Keep Away The Dead (as he did on the previous record). Where Siskiyou's debut was a stunning little scrapbook of short, sharp tunes, 'Keep Away The Dead' ramps things up with subtle care and clarity, yielding something closer to a rural gothic novella in spirit and scope. The album is a strikingly cold-eyed, tender-hearted song cycle, marked by quiet defiance and desperation. Huebert's acoustic guitar and gently acetic voice, Arnesen's gorgeous banjo and treated guitar lines, and the judicious rhythm section of Watt and Carruthers deliver a superbly compelling album on the knife's edge of darkness, where each tune feels like another precious log thrown on a lone campfire burning in the cold night.


                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                1. Keep Away The Dead
                                                                                2. Where Does That Leave Me
                                                                                3. Twigs And Stones
                                                                                4. So Cold
                                                                                5. Revolution Blues
                                                                                6. Dear Old Friend
                                                                                7. Not The Kind
                                                                                8. Fiery Death
                                                                                9. Sing Me To Sleep
                                                                                10. Dead Right Now

                                                                                Led by art/punk legend Carla Bozulich, who previously fronted The Geraldine Fibbers and Ethyl Meatplow. Fourth full-length album from Evangelista, which is Bozulich’s primary and most personal current musical project following the critically acclaimed Prince Of Truth (2009) that cemented Carla Bozulich’s reputation for aesthetic quality, intensity and iconoclasm as she entered a third decade of tireless artistic and musical activity. [Prince Of Truth is] a fascinating interplay of conventional song forms and more experimental tendencies...there’s a barely restrained brutality to this music, which seems always on the edge of something, either a descent into the abyss or elevation to some majestic heights... POPMATTERS.

                                                                                Evangelista’s new album continues to broaden the sonic canvas against which Bozulich deploys her distinctive voice and lyricism. In Animal Tongue reflects Bozulich’s escape from her Los Angeles home base and an increasingly nomadic existence in the last couple of years, devoted in equal parts to collaboration and improvisation with a wide range of players in diverse contexts, the conception and execution of site-specific sound/art events and residencies, rocking the circuit with Evangelista (equally at home in bright museums and dingy clubs) and retreats to the American desert. In Animal Tongue was chiefly written and recorded by Bozulich, in a variety of locations, driven (in Carla’s words) “by the forces of rocks, evolution, geology, drugs, boxing, everything-ology and dead stuff that makes the dirt and cement and the tress grow. Plus real versus fake!!!” We’re pretty sure this doesn’t mean she was actually taking drugs, but without doubt the album steams and bubbles like a surreal simmering cauldron, with carefully metered elements stirred and coagulating around a core of low-end provided by Tara Barnes on bass, seasoned with piano, organ and cut-and-paste arrangements by Dominic Cramp. This core trio is augmented by Sam Mickens (The Dead Science), Shahzad Ismaily (Laurie Anderson, Secret Chiefs, Sam Amidon) and John Eichenseer (jhno), who contribute to several tracks. Through it all, Bozulich’s powerfully adventurous voice weaves vital, semi-improvisatory melodies of gasping, restrained intensity (“Artificial Lamb”, “Bells Ring Fire”), brooding incantation (“In Animal Tongue”, “Hands Of Leather”, “Die Alone”) and a rich half-whispered alto (“Black Jesus”, “Enter The Prince”). In Animal Tongue is a superb addition to Bozulich’s canon and as original a voice as can be found at the current nexus of punk, poetry, and experimental music.


                                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                                1. Artificial Lamb
                                                                                2. In Animal Tongue
                                                                                3. Black Jesus
                                                                                4. Bells Ring Fire
                                                                                5. Hands Of Leather
                                                                                6. Tunnel To The Stars
                                                                                7. Die Alone
                                                                                8. Enter The Prince
                                                                                9. Hatching

                                                                                Elfin Saddle

                                                                                Wurld

                                                                                  Elfin Saddle began working with Constellation in late 2008. At the same time, the band's co-founders, Emi Honda and Jordan McKenzie, were also completing a year-long art project involving sculpture, stop-motion animation and time-lapse video. Using the backyard of their Montreal apartment as an installation site, Emi and Jordan evolved and devolved an entire miniature world, conjuring an historical arc of civilization from early settlement and relative harmony with nature to gradual industrialisation, mechanisation and the inevitable discontents of over-production, waste and decline.

                                                                                  The resulting work is a wondrous, unpretentious, gently mystical 23-minute video piece entitled "Wurld", for which they also composed the soundtrack. "Wurld" premiered at the Vienna International Film Festival in November 2009 and received a Canadian premiere at the Musee d'art contemporain de Montreal (MACM) in May 2010.

                                                                                  Elfin Saddle's "Wurld" is available in two formats, each using 100% recycled papers and boards:
                                                                                  Custom DVD package is a screen-printed 25 pt. chipboard gatefold jacket with front cover die-cut window, containing a series of four full-colour 5"x7" postcards featuring stills from the "Wurld" film (each of which can be positioned to shine through the window cut) and a 7"x14" duotone art print. Limited to 1000 for the world.
                                                                                  10" vinyl package is similarly screen-printed and die-cut on the same thick board, with a 10"x10" full colour insert card, the 5"x7" postcard set, and a larger 10"x20" duotone art print poster. The 10" package includes the DVD in a printed sleeve, inserted in the vinyl jacket. Limited to 500 for the world.

                                                                                  "Wurld" represents a new convergence in the art and music practice of Emi and Jordan, who also produced beautiful new drawings and collages for the package design and insert poster. Constellation is very proud to be presenting a truly multi-media work by these unique and talented artists.

                                                                                  Eric Chenaux

                                                                                  Warm Weather With Ryan Driver

                                                                                  Eric Chenaux is one of Toronto's most prolific and respected musical iconoclasts, an experimental guitar virtuoso with over two decades of dedicated and diverse service to an artistic community that encompasses post-punk, lo-fi, folk, multimedia composition and performance (chiefly in collaboration with modern dance) and free and improvised music.

                                                                                  "Warm Weather" With Ryan Driver is Eric's third album for Constellation, which has been the conduit for his primary song-oriented solo work since 2006. Building on his fruitful collaboration with piano/synth/melodica player Ryan Driver - whose key role on the new album is signalled by his inclusion in its very title - the new record is without doubt Chenaux's most accomplished and focused work of forward-looking, contemporary balladry.

                                                                                  The album is available on CD and 180g LP in 100% recycled paperboard jackets.

                                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                                  1. And So We Say
                                                                                  2. Since We're Smokey
                                                                                  3. Warm Charleston
                                                                                  4. Lavalliere #2
                                                                                  5. New Boon Harp
                                                                                  6. Mynah Bird
                                                                                  7. Ronnie-Mary
                                                                                  8. Cool Down
                                                                                  9. Warm Weather
                                                                                  10. Cold Dream

                                                                                  Godspeed You! Black Emperor

                                                                                  Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada EP

                                                                                    Constellation's second vinyl-only release from Godspeed contains two long songs, and sets the bar for the sprawling compositions that would characterize the group in the years to follow. Side one is cut at 45rpm and features "Moya", a broiling cascade of upward scales that repeatedly explodes beyond its own threshold. "BBF3" on Side two clocks in at 18 minutes, and is the band's most lyrical, multi-movement music to date -- more elaborated melodic figures wind around an angry spoken-word field recording (infamously culminating in the recital of the speaker's poem -- verses lifted straight from Iron Maiden). Both songs were recorded with Dale Morningstar at the old Gas Station studio in Toronto.

                                                                                    Sandro Perri

                                                                                    Sandro Perri Plays Polmo Polpo

                                                                                      Sandro Perri is perhaps better known as the singer songwriter behind Polmo Polpo and Glissandro 70. This album mixes beatific instrumental moments of ripping improv with wrought, empassioned songwriting to glorious affect, a truly heartrending collection of moving songs.

                                                                                      Hangedup

                                                                                      Clatter For Control

                                                                                        This is the third full length by the viola and drums duo of Montreal's Hangedup, who've been mesmerising audiences, while pushing the boundaries of what a bow and a pair of drumsticks can conjure since 1999. "Clatter For Control" finds the band utterly on fire, swooping and slamming around with varying degrees of controlled chaos. Both noisier and more melodic than anything they've yet put to tape, they raise their compostional and improvisational bars on this album.

                                                                                        The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band With Choir

                                                                                        This Is Our Punk Rock

                                                                                          This third album from Silver Mt. Zion, is by far the most melodic album released by any Godspeed You Black Emperor project. On this release, they expand on their core six piece line-up, to include guests on drums and a couple of dozen folk on choral duty! Dense layers of strings collide, blend and differentiate against a backdrop of ragged repeating guitar figures and noise treatments. Their long instrumental passages are there as ever, but there's a much stronger vocal presence than before.

                                                                                          Godspeed You! Black Emperor

                                                                                          Yanqui UXO

                                                                                            "Yanqui UXO" finds Godspeed at their most political. UXO = unexploded ordnance, landmines, cluster bombs. Yanqui = post-colonial imperialism, international police state, multinational corporate oligarchy. As for the music, well it speaks for itself, prime apocalyptic post rock at its best!!

                                                                                            The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band

                                                                                            Born Into Trouble As The Sparks Fly Upward - 2022 Repress

                                                                                              Second album that finds the band expanded to a six member core. The addition of cello, second violin and second guitar has allowed them to develop a much broader sound with more vocals and guitar. Think of a sound somewhere between Godspeed.., Spiritualized and Rachels. Fantastic stuff!!!!!

                                                                                              Re:mnant

                                                                                              Remnant

                                                                                                An album of sound collage grooves, densely layered songs, overlapping loops and filter treatments. On Constellation, home of Godspeed, A Silver Mount Zion, Do Make Say Think.

                                                                                                Frankie Sparo

                                                                                                My Red Scare

                                                                                                  Mysterious debut album by Frankie Sparo, helped out by various members of the Constellation circle. Angular guitars, skittish electronics and throaty vocals create an album which is vaguely sinister and paranoid at times, smoky and languid at others.


                                                                                                  Latest Pre-Sales

                                                                                                  190 NEW ITEMS

                                                                                                  E-newsletter —
                                                                                                  Sign up
                                                                                                  Back to top