Saturday, March 12th, 2005
The Sound Of The Colour Of The Sun
At first thought, a gritty, blue-collar town like Hamilton, Ontario is probably the last place you’d expect to produce practicioners of atmospheric space-rock like A Northern Chorus and Sianspheric, and yet here they are, or there they were at the Drake Underground last night. Both acts had been on my radar for years now, being local and all, but I hadn’t seen either live in some years, nor really heard any of their recorded output. But we were in a spacey sort of mood, so off we went.
A Northern Chorus has gone through a number of lineup changes in the last while, losing flautist Julie MacDonald, acquiring a new drummer and adding a cellist (who unfortunately wasn’t at this show), but despite this, their sound has remained remarkably consistent. They still play impressively large-sounding but still quiet-ish, heavily delayed space rock with high, delicate vocals. It’s a shame they had to play without a cellist as I could hear where that would have fit in and it would have sounded great – as it was, their set was pretty impressive and prompted me to pick up their last album Spirit Flags. Their new one, Bitter Hands Resign, is due out April 17 and they were supposed to tour North America with Raising The Fawn and Damon & Naomi, but apparently got removed from the bill by the headliners rather, er, unceremoniously for whatever reason, and will now be trying to make up the dates on their own. Pity, that.
Comparatively, is A Northern Chorus were the sonic equivalent of a gentle rainshower, Sianspheric were a tidal wave. No stranger to lineup changes themselves, they were playing down one guitarist and with a guest vocalist in fellow Steeltown-er Mayor McCa. Favouring a looser, less-structured approach than their tourmates, Sianspheric alternately unloaded huge, deafening slabs of distortion and quieter bits adrift in seas of reverb. It’s a little hard to assess a band’s songwriting chops in this sort of context, but their live assault was pretty entertaining and quite deafening (thank god for earplugs). Either way, an impressive output of decibels from just a three-piece band (not counting the Mayor’s harmonica and shaker). I don’t want to imagine what it had been like if they still had a second guitarist.
Fun trivia (for me, anyway) – Sianshperic (in their former incarnation as Gleet) and Mayor McCa (in his former band Gorp) both played at the same coffee house at my high school back in 1993 where my first band made our live debut. McCa was just as enamoured of running his vocals through a delay pedal then as he is now. Photos here. It was a black-and-white sort of night.
Sigur Ros has pushed back the release of their next album from May to September, citing a need to take a break from mixing and return with fresh ears. Thanks to Unfinished for being the bearer of bad news.
After some more experimental forays in Modulate and Loudbomb Bob Mould, returns to making guitar music with Body Of Song, a new collection of acoustic-based songs which I hope are in the vein of his Workbook album. Dang that was a good one. Billboard has more details on the record, which is scheduled for a July 26 release on YepRoc.
np – The Comas / Conductor