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Torngat, "La Petite Nicole"

cover image Montreal's trio of talented multi-instrumentalists hit pay dirt on this album. Revolving around a core of keyboards, drums and French horn, the group has carved out a pleasant niche for themselves inside the well traveled corridors of cinematic psychedelia, employing numerous other devices and useful effects along the way.

 

Alien8

Torngat - La petite Nicole

Most albums don’t begin with an “interlude” but this one does, doing the same job as an intro, but better, like I am already keyed in to the action of the plot. It could have been written after the title track, which follows the opener, where the melodic themes hinted at in the “interlude” are stretched out and more fully developed. Everything here is arranged in well fit layers, like an actor in a period costume, whom Torngat might well be providing the soundtrack for. A kaleidoscope of timbres illuminates the hierarchies of the harmonic spectrum, all glowing, washed in the thick espresso sludge of reverb and carefully attenuated distortion that coats all the remaining songs.

Whereas the edges come off rough hewn from the fuzzy swamp gas effects, shimmering melodies float gracefully rising like angels above the crinkling sheen of soft white noise. The group show themselves as being well listened in the prog rock and kraut arenas. Feedback, heavy riffing, and fluid drums (sometimes sounding like they are being played underwater), are all evident on songs like “L’Ecole Penitencier” and “Turtle Eyes & Fierce Rabbit.” “6:23 PM” shows a more subtle, ambient side: the slow but throbbing key playing on this track reminded me on every listen of the dreaminess of the classic Eno song “Spider and I.” This is in no way a disparagement of the piece, but added a weight of familiarity as well as mysteriousness. Gentle piano trickles, alongside a windy electric blur, keep it full bodied and well rounded.

The real light of the group shines through on pieces like “Afternoon Moon Pie” and “Going Whats What,” streaming, coaxed out of the curved brass that is the French horn. Whereas many bands will have garish tracks full of bombast and unnecessary pomp when they bring in a horn section, a single French horn imparts a more pure kind of regality altogether. For Torngat it has the benefit of setting them apart from the crowd.

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Review of the Day

The Boggs, "We Are The Boggs, We Are"
Arena Rock Recording Co.
My record collection reads like many other music-obsessed mid-20s male computer geeks (let's be honest). I've got loads of laptop generated music, a bunch of jazz (especially stuff on the 'fringe'), some good ol' Krautrock, not to mention the classics: Zeppelin, Floyd, etc, to name just a few of the genres represented on my shelf (but, I am proud to say, no Magnetic Fields or the like). But I'm lacking something integral in my record collection: BLUEGRASS. I was brought up in Appalachia, with bluegrass and old-time music around me my entire childhood. The lack of Louvin Brothers or Carter family records in my apartment is therefore appalling; I've always liked and appreciated bluegrass and old-time, and a good banjo player always knocks my socks off more than a flashy guitar player. So where are my Flatt & Scruggs LPs? It must be city life - how can I ever have "Knoxville Girl" in my head when I'm trying not to get hit by cabs as I speedwalk to the subway? All of this is leading up to the fact that I love this CD by The Boggs, who live in the same city I do and somehow find themselves inspired to pick up banjo, mandolin, etc and make some damned fine downhome bluegrass. On the cover of the album, the band looks like deceivingly like any other NYC band, possibly one that would make "dance music with a punk edge," but the Boggs couldn't be further from the typical NYC trend in bands. Though no one is going to confuse the Boggs with Doc Watson or Bill Monroe, this is straight up bluegrass, not 'alt country' or 'bluegrass-infused rock.' Usually, I make progression a priority in the music I like; that is to say, I like to use the argument, "Why listen to [new artist making music in an old style] when I could just listen to [artist from 20-50 years ago]?", but I find myself unable to justify that argument with the Boggs. Maybe I like them so much because there aren't too many people up north making music coming from an Appalachian influence (though I must admit I don't know the true roots of the members of the Boggs). In a city overflowing with bands aping bands that ape 20 years ago, it's refreshing to hear a group whose music isn't dictated by their surroundings.

 

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