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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

Greg Davis, "Curling Pond Woods"
Carpark
There's a level of innocence and melodic clarity present on this disc that makes me wonder why it hasn't received more recognition. Then the determining factor hits me: this is too sweet, almost comical in its lazy strolling. Greg Davis obviously has an ear for gorgeous sounds an the ability to craft elegant stretches of sound, but unfortuneately it seems as if he doesn't have the ability to create a coherent record. All the instrumentation is from traditional (i.e., non-electronic) sources and then warped and rearranged in various manners by way of laptop. The heart of each instrument is present in the mix so each instrument is readily identifiable; the sound of rain, birds singing, and other environmental sounds make their way behind the instruments and then... nothing. Almost all of these songs have absolutely no progression and if they do, it takes six minutes or so for any movement to happen. "Improved Dreaming" begins with the charming sounds of a toy music box chirping away above the sounds of a cartoonish galaxy full of twinkling stars and wisps of astral dust and then flows into the sound of woodwinds sighing out an exquisite melody... over and over and over again. The whole thing runs six minutes plus but it could've had a more stunning effect at perhaps half that length. One track wouldn't normally bug me so much, but there's so much excellent happening that it angers me at how dull it becomes because of repetition. And the problem is infectious. I could do without the singing, too. While the album might intentionally have a whimsical feeling, the vocals don't add to that, they simply sound cheesey and a bit out of place. Curling Pnd Woods has a lot of excellent spots, but those excellent spots wear off quickly. I recommend it in small doses; two tracks at a time is more than enough too keep the sweetness level low and the monotony at a minimum. These tracks could've captivated me had they been released as a series of EPs or singles.

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