“Bricoleur” [EP] – ‘Neon Canyon’
Surmising: the music-scene is relatively slo-at-the-mo. Blog-wise: we’re at a snail’s pace. We’re neglecters: posts are rare and intermittent these days. Coverage: apart from my Last.fm-journal, a few WordPress-tags and some interconnected-blogging, Facebook and Twitter-twit aren’t really having the desired effect.
I’ve had some last-minute reservations on this three-of-three post, now – what hit me in the past is fuzzy. My mind works in mysterious ways: unexplainably, questioningly, like the bumblebee. It shouldn’t fly, but it does. Half the time, it doesn’t know what it’s looking for. What ‘Neon Canyon’ has to do with ‘Tehachapi’, ‘(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)’, [maybe even ‘Klaxons’?], I can only guess at. The voice inside my head [not to be confused with schizophrenia] whispers sweet-nothings in my ear and tells me to go-forth-‘n’-write…
“Bricoleur”, EP from ‘Neon Canyon’ – the ‘Jon Sherman’–‘Mark Webber’ duo from Canada – is an interesting combination of psychedelic influences, ethereal, chillwave ambience and assorted synth. If I had have known it was an EP at the time, I would have moved on to the next album: something in its music smacks of longevity, though. And seeing how music of such a refined calibre is hard to come by, I thought: why deny myself [and you] the opportunity for a listen?
Stock-standard six-track listing; “Bricoleur” times in just shy of half-an-hour. Track-length, on average, floats around three-minutes. While on the surface, seemingly short-lived, “Bricoleur” is relatively devoid of opening-pace. Hence, momentum scrapes along the bottom in a characteristically non-jarring, steady movement in the beginning and accelerates towards an action-packed crescendo in the middle. The music itself amounts to an assorted mishmash of musical elements, loops or layers. Acoustic or purely electric in origin, one cannot fully say: what has or hasn’t been put through a machine, is surely masked by other bits which certainly have. The airy, ethereal coordination of vocals refrains from lyrical specificity: in other words – oohs , ahhs and untranslatable distortion. These are accompanied by the stereotypical instruments, like drum-kit-percussion [even electric/acoustic guitar]. Then, things sort of get twisted. Synth is sometimes restricted to simple beats or rhythms – shake-n-thump. But they also embody rather ethnic qualities, hard-to-describe tympanic rhythms, xylophone, water, whistles, flutes; jungle-speak. Surprisingly, the combinations are well-thought, well-balanced and aren’t particularly clumsy. Everything just sort of grows, blooms, and dies away. “Bricoleur” is more like a musical environment, an experimental labyrinth of flare and imaginary colour. It’s easy to get lost in and easy to come out of.
Unlike ambience, tracks give you just enough to cling to, and just enough room to breathe, separate and leave. EPs are meant to give a listener a [small] taste, enough to go-on, to entice, captivate and leave-hanging. Such a short time-span means there’s no room to dawdle – it’s all about showing off, strutting your stuff and making a long lasting impact with tiny, repetitive fists instead of a big album blow. Where ambience is almost devotional in its length, ‘Neon Canyon’ is like a quick-fix enlightenment-V, transcendental-meditation-while-you-drive sort-a stuff. It’s easy to come back to halfway-through, because there’s no real beginning and no real end. There’s enough chop-and-change between tracks so as to keep you entertained, but there’s not too much difference to destroy what ‘Neon Canyon’ is. What kind of context a band [especially an album] sets up for itself is very important. If it’s deliberately unpredictable, typecast or original, this can influence a listener particularly. “Bricoleur” can be slotted into unpredictability on the grounds that its music, is, well… unpredictable – what else do you want me to say? All its tracks are thoroughly enjoyable because of this.
What can honestly be said about chillwave? I find that most ambience offhandedly is quite tranquil. So the same can be said about chillwave. Its chaotic counterpart, noise, is its polar-opposite. I suppose chillwave isn’t just restricted to ambience – its application varies from band to band. Generally, anything synonymous to chillwave is characteristically smooth and relaxing, not aiming too high, too loud or overdone. ‘Neon Canyon’ certainly does have a hypnotic quality about it, and I suspect this is how it earned the chillwave vibe…
Individual tracks are almost linguistically indescribable: perhaps it’s just me. I’m finding it harder and harder these days to write about music when it’s supposed to be listened to. And I find that, more often than not, they’re definitions being repeated from prior posts. After a while, songs start to bleed together in construction. But, it was the delicate drip of xylophone that had me hooked first, the bellowing horn of “Six Kingdoms (Reprise)”, which left me slightly dazed. I suppose if I can piece together these miniature, understated moments in a song – trusting that you’ll take my word on it seriously – then there shouldn’t be any problems. The voices, the violin-like staccato, the windy-bells, the flute, the rushing watery-paper, frog-creaks and rustling, all build and build on top of each other conspiring for dominance. Dying in half the time it took to grow. Then there’s the jumbled static to the opening of “Bricoleur”, the comical, Nintendo-hop sounds, arcade burble and psychedelic whoops and whistles, a hazy, unclear voice. Then this sudden blip of xylophone, and bang: MULTIBALL! Sounds-a-flyin’, crashing, banging, “… gnawing, biting, hacking, burning…*” The interchange of soft and loud, fast and slow, is amazingly dramatic.
The rest, I think, is up to you. Go out there, listen for yourselves. Don’t frown on EPs like I do, don’t wait around for A-class bands to deliver B-class albums, like we have. Don’t snub the underdog, never underestimate a soloist: music in the right hands makes a mind sing. It’s up to you to hear its song [too cliché?].
Reviewer’s Pick: “Six Kingdoms (Reprise)”
Stand-out Tracks: All
The Enantiomorphic God