As water fountains forth from a spring and the nightingale calls out in the stillness of dawn, tranquility is embodied in a rippling otherworldly charm in Toronto avant folk singer-songwriter Clara Engel’s “Mayfly Day”. Crystalline celestial tones ring and drift from the vivid psychedelic guitar riff that imprints this strophic folk song, decorating a minimalistic amorphous soundscape of sublime bowed glockenspiel, cello tremolo, and ambient guitar drones. Above these enchanting layers is Clara’s poetic thought-provoking lyrics, a novella of the ethereal strive for universal equilibrium between the darkness and light, nature and the synthetic. A dream-state inward stroll within a technicolour contemporary folk art piece.
“Mayfly Day” appears on Where a City Once Drowned: The Bethlehem Tapes Vol. II, available now on Bandcamp.
Berry Wall makes his mesmerizing groovy entrance to the dance ball with his charming sweltering debut album Honeymoon, a collection of consciously soul-stirring yet heartwarming songs of perplexing love, build up with dedicated gravitas and executed with genuine honesty dripping with summer essence. I am flattered that this gentleman/dude has allowed me to premiere it here for you all!
Berry Wall is the glistening lo-fi pop persona of Kyle Bodi from Guelph, Ontario, who has sensually sculpted this labour of musical pride in his own visual the way he wanted it to sound. Kyle composed and recorded the songs all by himself, bringing aboard vocalist Amy Gismondi and bassist Juan Montant as main supportive players in his sonic paradise. These works have been brewing for quite a period at different rates, and it was well worth it all to reach this independent level of savory vitality.
Berry Wall producing crisp aromas of gem-studded psychedelic pop and sensational breezes of ravishing electronic chillwave, churned together and separated to different degrees across the album. “Summer’s Always So Far” quickly establishes the fancy-free textual sensation yet conceptual weight to cascade onward, with clear-reverberating strumming and fluctuating strumming electric guitar and bright snappy bursting drum machines patterns. “Tourista” is a stunning highlight on Honeymoon in the sunglasses pop domain, with all the focus on the surreal flushing tenderness of Amy Gismondi’s expressive lead vocals against the magnificent tumbling and gliding synthesizer phrases. “You Gotta Treat Your Love” is a chillwave pillar of activity, featuring Kyle’s sexy voice singing in a minimalistic hip-hop spoken-word style and sustained electronic synth layers, as it timbrally and lyrically resembles a mixture of Brian Eno’s art rock/electronic music. Sensational and symbolically compelling! Finally, “Darling, Are You There?” begins as a soft quaint sentimental ballad with Kyle singing solo with electric guitar accompaniment, before blooming into a psychedelic radiant colourful dreamland.
Join Berry Wall upon his glimmering yacht on his Honeymoon, sure to produce a radical glow to define this summer; it never looked so tantalizing and heart-throbbing!
Honeymoon is available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the entire album below:
If you ever pondered how you would react to a rare mix of decadent yet coarse electronic dance punk, look no further than to sample a taste of Mouthfeel through their track “ginnny”. Once the moist flavours of their bright bounding drum machine beats and pulverized grimy guitar distortions take hold in your system, Mouthfeel ups the ante to your kinetic shocks within their pummeling underground rave with strange warbling sonic loop patterns and the gliding hypnotic cathartic siren cries of the synth. A raging cascade of delicious electrical vibrations in all proportions, prepare to venture into the mysterious hyperactive spaces of your mind and on the floor. Feel your mouth drop as a result of Mouthfeel’s eccentric hysteria!
“ginnny” appears on demonstration one, now available PWYC via 3 Nines Compact Cassettes on Bandcamp.
Fashioning smooth pastoral dreamscapes of textually fluid songs yet interconnected with calming good-feeling atmosphere and energy, Warez is your grand shepherd in this drifting trip through his self-titled debut album, Warez, making its warm emergence into the universe here first!
Warez is multi-instrumentalist Andrew McArthur of Orangeville, Ontario, composing a mild-spiced psychedelic variety of an aesthetic-based music genre called plez / pleasant rock: rock music that produces peaceful chill vibrations, is tranquil and unobtrusive, and you will feel nice and refreshed from listening to it. From the very beginning of the album, as the first radiant reverberations of the guitar riff in “Devil” washes upon you, there is no denying that graceful natural sensation to drift away into the puffy clouds. Imagine a audible perfume that combines the marked poise of Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the imaginative pop songcraft of the Beatles, with the softer tones of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and the lyrical charm of the Canterbury Scene. Waft the whimsical scent of “Spooky Kitty” with its baroque piano, the serene reflective yearning smell cascading from “Moon” and “Eyes” with their heart-piercing guitar solos, and the energized flourishing sensational aroma of “Stupid” with its electronic beats highlights. Recording everything himself, Warez has crafted 8 spellbinding pleasant songs that will insight your wondrous imagination and thoughts, as well as simply shine a positive mood-relaxing light upon you.
Warez is available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the entire album below:
SOMBRA gives us an audio-visual depiction of what home, a personal sanctum of stability and recover, feels like when it turns into a solitary void of trepidation and angst but with no choice other than to to enter in their video for ‘Casablanaka’.
The Montreal alternative electronic trio crushes and sculpts together industrial static noise rhythms, beautiful post-progressive instrumentation and glinting guitar passages, that might represent that internal over-saturating strain of the man who drives around without purpose, only to return time and again to a motel room… his “blank house”. What makes the video’s arch confusing is that there is no obvious indications that has led up to the man’s emotional state-of-being… only empty speculation. Under such mysterious weighted circumstances, understanding comes from the yearning words sung by the pleading lustrous melodic voice of Matthew Dessner.
SOMBRA - "Casablanka" (Official Video) - YouTube
This music video was directed by Evangelos Desborough.
‘Casablanaka’ is the newest single by SOMBRA, available now PWYC on Bandcamp. It will be included on their first full-length album Free From Interruption, to be released on Silver Moon Records in Fall 2019.
Apollo Suns is a psychedelic jazz-rock instrumental collective from Winnipeg, Manitoba, brightly shining a rejuvenating beacon on contemporary fusion, making it attractive and approachable with their idiosyncratic energetic arrangements and sweltering stellar musicianship. They have just released their majestic sophomore EP, Dawn Offerings, today on all music platforms, the follow up to their 2017 debut EP, Each Day A Different Sun. I got to catch up with Apollo Suns’ leader, guitarist and dear friend of mine, Ed Durocher, chatting about how the band got its start, the creative impulses that resonates through the band, the joys and risks of instrumental music, and the new action-packed and sensually exceptional works that will make you glow to your heart’s content and freely jive without a care:
Ed, my good friend! It is a pleasure to be be chatting with you. How have you been?
Hey Nick! I’m good. Looking to not wearing all the winter gear. Feels good! Getting really excited to finally be releasing some new music with this EP, Dawn Offerings.
I am looking forward to warmer weather myself, especially with the hot fusion vibes that you and Apollo Suns never fail to deliver! Before we get to the new EP, could you tell our readers a background history into Apollo Suns? How did the band start up and how has it developed into its present formation?
Apollo Suns really got started with one show on July 17th 2014 at the Piano Nobel Gallery in the Centennial Concert Hall. At that point our old band, Electric Soul, had broken up and we were experimenting with free form jamming and instrumental music. It had already been a huge part of what we were doing. We were asked to play this show, rehearsed once with a thrown together band of our favourite local musicians. The show was a hit! It went very well and lots of folks in the crowd asked us to continue playing music.
We did a couple shows with that context but it wasn’t anything serious. I decided that if we were going to be an instrumental jammy/prog/jazz band that I wanted it to be a little more catchier and hooky. It needed to be understood by all listeners and not just musicians. In March of 2016, we played our first show under the name, APOLLO SUNS. We were a 4 piece and then in the 6 months following that we added trumpet, tenor sax and percussion.
I always wanted a large band and the power of horns. Counter melodies, many voices, dynamics and depth. It just made sense to add more horns and that helped the band start cooking. We developed a lot while on the road, and we are a heavy touring band.
That’s the coles notes on the evolution…..I will say that we have had many players come through the band, 21 to be exact, and they all leave their mark. Whether it is in songwriting, feel/vibe, an idea or concept. So that has also contributed to the sound as well. I’m grateful that we have our core group though. It took some time but it is fantastic!
That enveloping instrumental depth of textures highlighted by memorable melodies and infectious rhythms really makes Apollo Suns rise above the sonic horizon. Who is in current incarnation of Apollo Suns that recorded Dawn Offerings? What is the relationship amongst each other, and your relationship as the band leader with the rest of the members?
Well for Dawn Offerings, we were at 10 pieces. And we had a couple variations with the horns/percussion as people left or were let go, or fired if you would like to use that term, due to personal reasons or they just weren’t the best fit. So for “Passing By” and “A Song For Sterling” it’s a 4 piece horn section consisting of Aaron Bartel (Bari Sax), Philip Collins (Trumpet), Kyle Wedlake (Alto Sax) and Anthony Bryson (Trombone). “Dark Night” and “A Lesson Learned” it was a 5 piece section which was Aaron Bartel (Tenor Sax), Philip Collins (Trumpet), Anna Blackmore (Bari Sax), Anthony Bryson (Trombone) and Eamon Sheil (Alto Sax).
It is an ever-changing relationship as the band leader. There is a core group of Apollo Suns with Anatol [Rennie on keyboards], Aaron, Glenn [Radley on drums] and Dave [Guenette on bass]. The horns have become pretty consistent but the core group do a lot of the writing and then the others bring in ideas on how to add to the music.
As a band leader I try to be fair, honest, kind and positive but sometimes I have to be a little more of a “BOSS” then I want to be. I have high expectations on the band because I believe in the music and the work we do. It can be stressful at times but it is also a lot of fun and the band supports me when I am having a bad day at home or on the road. I try to stay positive and make sure everyone is enjoying themselves but sometimes we gotta get down to business.
You generously gave me early access listening to Dawn Offerings (Thank you Ed!), and I was totally blown away! I thought Each Day A Different Sun was epic, but Dawn Offerings shoots your radiant flares to new frontiers in terms of focused compositional and instrumental execution and arrangement. How would you describe each record in terms of the band’s musical ideas and production?
Thanks Nick! Your descriptions of our music always makes me smile.
Each Day a Different Sun was recorded in September of 2016 and we had only been a band for 6 months or so. Playing a handful of shows, a couple festivals and having almost a full set of music. We just took all the songs we had and recorded them live off the floor in a basement with just the four of us. We added a couple horns and percussion and just went with it. We didn’t have a producer or any team around us. It was raw and naked. I thought the songs were good and we had fun with them. There are some cool moments on that record for sure. I just re-listened to it the other week actually.
With Dawn Offerings though, we had done lots of shows, played lots of big stages/festivals, and added a lot of talent with the horn players we are working with. We had also spent a lot more time with the songs and working them out over many shows and trying new things. “Passing By” and “A Song for Sterling” have been in the set list for a year or so. We also worked with a producer, Keith Price, and we learnt a lot from him about listening and having a conversation as a band.
I just think if a band is really being honest and critical of what it is producing then the natural path will be evolution and growth. Dawn Offerings is just a step in evolution as the next album after it will be and so on.
Oh Ed, I am glad my musical prose brings you joy!
Leading up to Dawn Offerings’ release, you guys have been posting a series online about albums that each member of the band is influenced by and brings to Apollo Suns’ mesmerizing soundscape. What are the main musical influences that trickle into the band’s sonic DNA?
Well each member has a wide range of influences and favourite albums but I think some common threads are Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, King Crimson’s RED, Frank Zappa’s One Size Fits All, Snarky Puppy’s We Like it Here and so many more.
Musically, the band comes from a lot of different places.
Different places and musical spheres! But I see a common thread across these artists: variations of progressive eclectic music. How would you define progressive music and how important is that and eclecticism in Apollo Suns’ music?
Progressive music is an odd term for me. Like I think a lot of things are progressive and don’t get labeled that way even in the pop realm. Like some pop bands that are using odd time signatures and using cool harmonic tricks. What I loved about PROG to begin with was the journey and the landscape that the music seemed to paint. It wasn’t about a product, or a single or whatever it was just about the whole and not to say that there isn’t “singles” in the Prog realm but it always fit into the whole.
I think eclecticism just comes from being open to experimentation and not being afraid to at least try something. So many of our songs came from experimenting and seeing what would work. It’s been a great process so far and the music and journey only seems to be getting more interesting to me.
For the works on Dawn Offerings, are there any conceptual themes found through the radiant instrumentation? Or do they inspire embodiments of moods, feelings and spirit that you channel to your listeners?
Well we put way more attention to dynamics and really asking ourselves if we need every instrument playing at all times. So I guess a concept was dynamics! Ha!
“A Song for Sterling” was written to convey confusion and anger, especially how abrasive and cutting that opening riff is and how heavy the “chorus” section is. The last section though is meant to give some clarity and an uplifting sense. That beautiful delayed out electric piano, delayed guitar, soaring horns and of course, The MELLOTRON. I wanted it to sound like heaven.
Apollo Suns Dark Night Live at The Park Theatre - YouTube
What about the other pieces, like “Dark Night” and “Passing By”? Is the record opener “A Lesson Learned” a transitional piece following “ A Lesson In Sharing,” the closing track off Each Day A Different Sun?
Well the title [“A Lessoned Learned”] alone is a reference to the song and we actually took the melody of the closing section of “A Lesson in Sharing” as a farewell. It is meant to be symbolic and kind of referencing the past but also paying tribute to it. I am very proud of Each Day… but it is a new age for Apollo Sun. I think Dawn Offerings makes that statement very clear and in a good way. It was a good way to keep some continuity through the albums as well, which I always appreciate.
As for “Dark Night”, I wanted a no fucking around, straight to the point groovy piece. Just full of hooks and really laying down some beautiful melodies. “Passing By” is more of a conversation and a journey. It’s fragile but also heavy at the same time, I always call that our midnight song. As soon as we laid it down I knew it was there, it just had that vibe to it. Everyone in the room is listening and responding so well.
Apollo Suns have just recently in the past few years started to expand your live performance radar beyond Manitoba, tackled surrounding provinces. Like your first tour through Ontario in 2018! I personally had the pleasure to meet you amazing beings and host during an in-studio live on-air radio interview and performance on my radio show, The Sentinel’s Marvellous Kaleidoscope, at CFRU 93.3 FM in Guelph, Ontario. How did you find that experience with me in person?
Well I personally love doing those live sessions on college radio. They are always a blast and we make sure to hit many of them on tours. It’s a good way to meet people who are playing our music, reach new listeners and of course hang out with some of our favourite hosts.
I thought you were very prepared and took time in actually coming in with great questions. Some hosts just use the generic questions and it’s all very standard. You actually make questions that are prepared for each band and it’s very nice working with a musical fan.
Your making me blush, Ed… thank you for nice words!
Apollo Suns - Live on CFRU 93.3FM - YouTube
Now, I hope you don’t mind me getting political here, but you may have heard about the current provincial Ontario government’s plans to defund post-secondary institutions as well as the services they provide to students via the proposed Student Choice Initiative. With respect to our talk, down to the point, this means local campus and community media across the province could be crippled or even shut down in the coming year. What are your thoughts on supporting local campus and community media outlets, and have they helped Apollo Suns reach its current recognition and outreach?
I think it’s a shame that [Ontario Premiere Doug] Ford is being this short sighted but it seems to be the way of the “Progressive” Conservatives. To defund a support system for arts and all the good that student/volunteer-based programs do is really stupid. As far as it applies to Apollo Suns, we have been very fortunate to have the support of college stations and all the service and community building opportunities that it means for up-and-coming bands.
Every time the Conservatives open their mouths I just cringe but then again every party seems to be king of a let down……
Some of our first champions were hosts of college radio and we can’t say thank you enough.
Your welcome Ed, and I thank you for passing along your thoughts on this issue.
To lighten the mood before we close off this interview, it is interesting to note that you are a father! Congratulations! How young is the little guy now? How does being a musician and organizing a collective like Apollo Suns affect parental duties? Do they like your music?
Thanks so much Nick. It’s been lots of fun raising Miles. He is 17 months now and so curious, always smiley and active. It keeps me on my tow for sure.
It has been a change for sure but in a good way. I have to be way more consistent with my time now when I’m working on all the inner workings of the band. I am fortunate to have a supportive band and family. My partner is very supportive and is a good person to bounce ideas off when it comes to planning and strategy.
To conclude this interview, what can we expect from Apollo Suns in terms of supporting Dawn Offerings this year and onwards?
We will be hitting the road with multiple tours across Canada, looking at Europe in the fall and releasing some new music, videos and many, many festivals. We are looking forward to sharing this album with everyone.
Dawn Offerings is a nice taste of what’s to come. We are looking ahead to the next release for 2020 and with Dawn Offerings, if people dig that album, we are going to really enjoy what comes after.
Ed, it has been a pleasure to be able to chat with you about Apollo Suns! I hope to hear and see greatness from you and the band this coming year!
Dawn Offerings Release Party
April 26 and 27: Winnipeg, MB @ The Handsome Daughter
Dawn Offerings Western Canadian Tour 2019
May 3: Langenburg, SK @ Flav’r Country Ranch
May 4: Saskatoon, SK @ Amigos
May 5: Red Deer, AB @ The Vat
May 8: Fort Saint John, BC @ Mighty Peace Brewing
May 9: Prince George, BC @ Nancy O’s
May 10: Rolla, BC @ The Rolla Pub
May 11: Jasper, AB @ The Legion
May 12: Vernon, BC @ Record City
May 14: Enderby, BC @ Lorenzo’s
May 16: Kelowna, BC @ Milkcrate Records
May 17: Oliver, BC @ Firehall Brewery
May 18: Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall
May 19: Golden, BC @ The Rockwater
May 22: Banff, AB @ Hi Alpine Centre
May 23: Edmonton, AB @ The Sewing Machine Factory
May 24: Red Deer, AB @ Bo’s Bar and Grill
May 25: Calgary, AB @ The East Town Get Down Festival
Guelph-based Philipinx experimental kulintang player Luyos MC produces a meditative healing tranquility in her new instrumental work
“Lake Agco Droplets”. Surely this is what it must feel like next to the hot steaming body of water in the Southern Philippines this work is based on: full of rich patient energy and beautiful augmented textures. Luyos MC plays her resonant kulintang gongs backed by tectonic electroacoustic layers of drums, guitar, bass, and ethereal subtle violin samples provided by Saskatoon experimental ambient violinist respecftulchild (敬兒). A calming complex soundscape reflecting a unique natural wonder.