What better way to bring in a new year than plan a long-awaited album release AND have a big, loud, and sweaty New Year’s Eve bash at the same time? Well, the guys in the Ottawa dance-pop group Silkken Laumann thought of it, and they sure know how to throw a hell of a party.
You may ask, who is this Silkken Laumann? Why is that name so familiar? It’s because it’s a variation on one of Canada’s greatest Olympian rowers, Silken Laumann. But in reality, the group consists 0f two members of another terrific Ottawa folk band, The Acorn, and two other well known musicians in the scene. Rolf Klausener (vocals, guitar) and Pat Johnson (drum master) have taken a little bit of time away form their Acorn responsibilities to join forces with bassist Gary Franks (Roberta Bondar, CEREMONY) and local producer/experimentalist Adam Saikaley (CEREMONY) on synth/keys. Silkken Laumann is, for all intents and purposes, an Ottawa supergroup. Delayed in its release, originally slated for July 2012, the trio has now put together Not Forever Enough in its entirety. I spoke with Rolf earlier this year regarding the project:
[Silkken Laumann] was really born out of spending all this time at home in Ottawa, getting to know all the DJ culture that is so pervasive and so awesome in the city. I wasn’t able to get into all that when touring so much with The Acorn.
Let me begin by talking about the album. The record is called Not Forever Enough, contains eight tracks, and runs for approximately 40 minutes. Almost two years ago the group released the first single and video for ‘On The Mend‘, followed by ‘House of Common Problems‘ and ‘Obvious Water (Yer a Kitten)‘ since then. Needless to say, this album has been a long time coming and a long-awaited moment for many of us here in Ottawa. The music on the album is a derivation of the band’s broad pop sensibilities and undeniable love for dance music of all kinds.
On the first listen it is apparent that there were no shackles holding back their ambitions. I say this because one issue many electronic/synth-based bands run into is getting stuck in one particular sound or method by which the music is made, and that is clearly not the case here. There are fun, disco-influenced tracks such as ‘Giving You Up’ and ‘Obvious Water (Yer a Kitten)’, penetrating deep synth songs like ‘Wanderlust’ and ‘The River,’ all-out instant dance floor bump n’ grind anthems like ‘On The Mend’, as well as a restrained heart-wrencher in title track to end things off. The songs are textured just right, and contain subtle elements from each member’s skill set. I still can’t get over how good Pat Johnson’s drums sound, and at times it feels like you’re in the jam room with them as they’re playing. Having released only three tracks over two years leading up to the album’s release, the band has synthesized all the emotion and sounds we could ever want on Not Forever Enough.
New Year’s Eve began with a little Ottawa Showbox pre-party at my apartment. Many friends showed up and enjoyed beverages as we got warmed up for the party at Babylon. Loon Choir was set to perform at the Sparks Street festivities that night, but their set was cancelled last-minute due to organizational problems. I invited some of the guys over to the apartment (just down the street) and the band’s lead singer Derek played a few of their songs acoustically on my couch. It’s always nice to make a something good out of a bad situation, and we shared drinks and hugs with the band and hopefully made their night a little better.
We proceeded to Babylon where the party was already in full tilt. The drinks were flowing, music pumping, and crowd filling the venue up nicely. Local VJ Hard Science was there to provide some crazy lighting effects and visual patterns that really added to the whole atmosphere. The band took the stage around 11pm, just in time to play most of the songs off Not Forever Enough before the midnight NYE countdown.
Only a few songs in, Rolf invites some of us to come on stage while the band performs. Well, I think he got more than he bargained for. A bunch of us packed on stage and started dancing around like maniacs, but luckily didn’t knock over any of their equipment. Babylon was packed to the brim, and everyone was in the mood to party all night long. At one point Rolf said ” It’s courageous of you to come out on the funnest night if the year to listen to songs you don’t know”.
Silkken Laumann is a band that is technically new to the stage, but these guys are best friends and have so much musical chemistry together that it seems to come naturally. Rolf’s natural stage energy and Gary’s unstoppable trance-like state of being while playing music really pushed this show past what you might normally expect from a band. Their chemistry and collective years of experience are part of what make Silkken Laumann a unique entity among us.
The countdown happened at midnight and we all cheered as 2014 was reigned in. Rolf and co. got behind the decks after their set and continued to make us dance our pants off until the night took us away. One hell of a New Year’s memory.
You can stream Silkken Laumann’s new record Not Forever Enough below, or download it for FREE here.
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