Ev has synesthesia, and they incorporate their sensory experiences into music reviews. Synesthesia is a condition in which the brain links a person’s senses together in a rare manner, prompting unusual sensory responses to stimuli. People with synesthesia, for example, might see a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet. Those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion.
The night kicked off with Future States, a Montreal/Ottawa-based band who took the stage and ripped out some melodic tunes. The band classifies themselves as art-pop, however they held a certain aspect of rock-soul to them. With resonant synths and dissonant and eerie harmonics, their sound was light and mystic, filled with air.
The drumming was cold and curt, not particularly resonant but it set the atmosphere to the songs. Presented in a carefree and free-spirited way, the beat was exact. The punctuality of each beat, each abrupt stop and sudden start adding a charming character to the tunes. Relying on cymbals to create that cool tone the drummer painting the background an icy blue.
The vocal ranges were a calming and warm monotone that entranced you once paired with the synths. If you were to close your eyes, they could paint the world a warm sunny yellow, swirls of gold. The voices are almost haunting especially when paired with dissonant notes, leaving you with chills but in the most memorable and pleasant way. The soft vocals take you away into a dreamland, creating a new false reality with each song—the next always better than the last.
The synths add diversity to each song, overlayed and creating odd loops and feedback. High pitched and hollow, the synths add contrast to the otherwise full sound the band holds. With little sounds that can only be described as onomatopoeias to fill and tie together, the band wouldn’t sound so complete without it.
The guitars are soothing and dissonant. They almost don’t belong and sound abrasive against the rest of the progressions. Taking control and tying the pieces together, Future States take control of the dissonance and use it to their advantage. Short little bursts or fully-fledged chords, snippets of them all whisk the listener away with their lightness. Playing with tonal range, somber at times, they create a contrast to the pieces while bringing a unity unique to each respective track. The bass playing, while not all that prominent, is a required backbone to the bands sound. It deepens the beats played and rumbles in the background. It’s a sound you feel but you don’t hear it unless you carefully listen for it. It fills the void while layering its power into the songs with eloquent subtlety.
The headliner of the night was a post-punk band from New York called Pill. They bring a warmth to punk with rhythmic hollow sounding drumming and with the eccentric use of the saxophone. There is only one other punk band I know of that has incorporated the sax into their songs.
Soft and soothing, known to hold a rough edge, the vocals came flying at you without mercy. Melding together with the guitar and bass well, and when sung over the sax, the lyrics hold a strange and eerie power. Afraid of the Mirror is a song that you can clearly hear this within. Delivered rhythmically and with power, a hidden melancholy finds itself behind the voice. The lyrics are emotionally driven and politically oriented. High to low notes belted out with a breathy air, it adds a sensuality and emphasis to certain lines.
The drumming is warm and hollow, it keeps a steady and almost jazz-like beat while incorporating elements of punk fills fueled with aggression. Splashes of yellow incorporated in by the ride and crash cymbals drive forth the glow and vibrancy of the songs. Simultaneously, the drumming picks up leads to a more frantic beat that by consequence delivers a more frantic and anxious performance.
The incorporated saxophone adds a brazen edge to each song—wild and skillful, layered haphazardly. Despite sounding wild, carefree, and disorderly at times, the sax adds a completely new layer to post-punk that is often overlooked. Deep and rumbling, high pitched and cathartic, the incorporation of the saxophone gives a unique twist to the band’s dynamic. It paints new colours onto the vivid palette their music creates and breaks the so-called norm of post-punk.
Guitar reverberating, the sound seemingly delayed but played with grace or played wildly – dropping the guitar onto the ground to add effect, unconventional methods used to create the unclear gritty sound. The guitar playing becomes frantic at times, others it slows to small riffs that build up to a powerful chord progression. Fun thrown into playing with heart, the guitarist interacts with the other band members – and photographers, getting in their space instead of vice versa.
Sure to get heads bobbing and feet moving was the deep and incredibly prominent bassline. It rattles in your rib cage and shakes the floor with its power. Legato or staccato, the bass is the one element besides the sax that sticks out like a sore thumb. The absolute simplicity creates a statement of its own, making it easily enjoyable. Progressions one can’t ignore, steady swirls of deep wine reds blend into the rest of the soundscape. At times, when combined with the sax and guitar, it creates an absolutely frantic and unimaginable chaos. It’s distinguishable and catches your ear the second the notes belt out.
The two bands contrast and oppose each other in sound and pairing the two together creates an interesting and ear-catching dynamic that should be seen. Both captivating in their own ways and senses, art-pop and post-punk, they’re bands that know how to entertain and include. If they drop by to play a show near you, don’t miss out. They’re sure to put on a dreamy yet electrifying show guaranteed to get you on your feet and moving.