Land Of Talk

spectrasonic.com presents

Land Of Talk

Casper Skulls

Friday, November 24, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The 27 Club

Ottawa, ON

$20.00

due to unforeseen circumstances, this show has been moved to The 27 Club, 27 York St.

Original tickets will be honoured at the door, new tickets now available.

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tickets also available at Vertigo Records and both Compact Music locations

lineup, date, venue, times and ticket price subject to change without notice.

 

 

Land Of Talk
Land Of Talk
"I don't want to waste it this time"
If anyone has earned the right to sing those words, it's Elizabeth Powell. Since forming Land of Talk in 2006, the one certainty in her life has been uncertainty, as her band has gone from being one of Montreal's most brash, buzzy indie rock acts to one of its most elusive and enigmatic. After recording Land of Talk's debut EP, Applause Cheer Boo Hiss, Elizabeth lost her drummer (the first in what would become a semi-regular pattern of line-up changes). After releasing Land of Talk's first full-length record, Some Are Lakes, in 2008, she lost her voice. And after the 2010 follow-up, Cloak and Cipher, she lost her will.
Elizabeth knew she needed a break from the album/tour/album/tour cycle after the Cloak and Cipher campaign ended-she just didn't plan on it becoming a full-blown hiatus. "I was just tired and felt a little disenchanted," she says. "I think that's very common-to feel industry-weary. I just couldn't do it. The only thing that was keeping me there was the music, and I think the music had become a footnote of the whole story. I wanted to get back to the music."
In 2011, Powell left Montreal behind and retreated to her grandparents' cottage near Lake Couchiching, Ontario "to do the Glenn Gould thing and hunker down and write some songs." But all her work was lost when her laptop irreparably crashed, taking all her GarageBand demos down with it. With Land of Talk, Elizabeth had survived multiple personnel changes and a vocal polyp that nearly robbed her of her ability to sing. But the combination of post-tour fatigue and the demoralizing loss of her new material brought her to a dead stop. "After that," she says, "I just didn't want to think about music at all. I kind of retired. It was a throw the baby out with the bathwater scenario."
After settling back into her hometown of Orillia, Ontario, Elizabeth was dealt an even more devastating blow on New Year's Day 2013: her father suffered a stroke, and all of Elizabeth's energies went toward caring for him. But in her darkest hour, the elder Powell provided Elizabeth with a guiding light. "I was visiting him in the hospital," she recalls, "and he just said, 'Come on, can you just do this now? Can you just get back to music?'"
Elizabeth went home and wrote "This Time," the song that ultimately served as the spark-and thematic focus-for a new Land of Talk record. It's the sound of Elizabeth rediscovering her musical muse, and unleashing the sort of do-or-die ardour that only comes when a life-altering event forces you to stare mortality in the face. "That's when it became more urgent and undeniable," Elizabeth says. "I just wanted to repeat those lyrics over and over again, because that's all I really had to say. At that point, music became a self-help thing, a coping mechanism-because music is how I understand myself and the world."
And just as Elizabeth was reconnecting with her passion for songwriting, she serendipitously reunited with a former foil: original Land of Talk drummer Bucky Wheaton, who emailed her out of the blue after falling out of contact for several years. Before long, the two were woodshedding new songs in Toronto at Broken Social Scene/Do Make Say Think bassist Charles Spearin's home jam space, and then booking time at Montreal's Breakglass Studios with the Besnard Lakes' Jace Lacek, who recorded the first Land of Talk EP (and, for this new record, shared bass duties with wife/bandmate Olga "Oggie" Goreas). "Without sounding too gushy, it's been a beautiful reunion," Elizabeth says. "This album became my homecoming to Montreal."
But if Land of Talk's new album, Life After Youth, recreates the same conditions and recruits much of the same personnel that produced Land of Talk's scrappy debut EP, the end result is dramatically different than anything the band has attempted before. While caring for her father, Elizabeth fell under the spell of classical, ambient, and Japanese tonkori music, whose meditative quality aided his recovery. Immersing herself in those sounds would change her entire approach to music-making; she started writing songs without her trusty guitar, instead building tracks up from synth beds and programmed loops. "Because I was feeling so stripped down and having powerful realizations and emotions about life, I wanted to get away from guitar into more hypnotic synth sounds," she says. "I wanted things to be more lulling and comforting."
Life After Youth's centerpiece track, "Inner Lover," presents the most radical results of those experiments. It's an audio Rorschach test of a song: key in on the incessant synth pulse underpinning Elizabeth's pleading vocal ("take care of me!") and the track assumes an ominous intensity. But when you surrender to the relaxed drum counter-rhythm and subliminal harmonies, "Inner Lover" projects a graceful serenity.
Even the songs built atop more traditional rock foundations exist in that liminal space between dreaming and waking life, confidence and doubt, raw feelings and soothing sounds. "Yes You Were" opens the record with a cold-start surge that's overwhelming in its immediacy, with Elizabeth's furiously strummed guitar jangle and wistful lyricism bearing all the adrenalized excitement and nervous energy of seeing old friends (or, in her case, fans) for the first time in ages. And as its title suggests, "Heartcore" is a collision of soft-focus sonics and emotional intensity, with Elizabeth's crystalline vocals hovering above a taut, relentless backbeat and disorienting synth squiggles. Even the turn-a-new-leaf optimism of "This Time" is presented less as a triumphant comeback statement than a warm reassuring embrace-its beautifully dazed 'n' confused psych-pop swirl acts as a calming force as you hurtle toward life's great unknown.
"It just seems like when we play that song, it seems to give people levity in the room and everyone lightens up and I think that's worth its weight in gold," says Elizabeth. "That's all I feel I'm trying to create: moods that are very conducive to connecting, that make people feel good enough to let their guard down and let them know it's okay to just open up."
Fitting for a song about reconnecting with the world, "This Time" was the product of another fortuitous reunion-between Elizabeth and her old friend Sharon Van Etten, who lent her songwriting smarts and heavenly harmonies to that track, as well as "Heartcore" and the Fleetwood Mac-worthy "Loving." And Van Etten is just one member of a veritable indie-rock dream team Elizabeth recruited to complete the album: the moonlit ballad "In Florida" was recorded by producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile) in his New Jersey studio, with Elizabeth backed by former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and Roxy Music/Sparks bassist Sal Maida.
From Montreal to Orillia to Toronto to New Jersey and back to Montreal again, the story of Life After Youth resembles one of those Raiders of the Lost Ark maps with the red routing lines bouncing back and forth into a blur-"which is kind of like what my brain is like," Elizabeth says with a laugh. But from that mental and geographic scramble, a work of great focus and clarity has emerged. The last time Elizabeth Powell brought new music into the world, Justin Bieber didn't have a criminal record, tinder was just something you used to start a campfire, and Donald Trump's assholery was still safely confined to reality-TV shows. To paraphrase the late David Bowie, it's been seven years, and Elizabeth's brain hurt a lot. But she stands today as the patient-zero case study for Life After Youth's therapeutic powers. These are the songs that got her through the tough times. And now, they can do the same for you.
Casper Skulls
Casper Skulls
Casper Skulls emerged from the Toronto exurbs in 2015, bursting onto the local scene with a studied sound and supercharged live performances. Following an early 7” on the band’s own label, Hip Priest, the quartet released the Lips & Skull EP on Buzz Records in late 2016. Described by MTV as a collection of “confrontational art rock that bleeds with sincerity,” and drawing comparisons to luminaries like Television, The Fall (The Toronto Star), Pavement, and Sonic Youth (Noisey), the EP attracted immediate attention from audiences first in Toronto and increasingly up and down the Eastern seaboard as the band toured outside of Canada for the first time and began sharing stages with acts like Cloud Nothings, Thurston Moore, Suuns, Weaves, The Julie Ruin, Solids, Greys, and Chastity Belt.

Over the course of their young career the band’s sound has remained difficult to pin down, shifting through a broad collection of influences and jamming a raft of new ideas into each song, giving the impression that the 7” and the EP were “just the tip of the iceberg” (Noisey). The band’s forthcoming debut full length, Mercy Works, which will be released on November 3rd via Buzz, only serves to deepen that impression, making good on their early promise with a release that constitutes a startlingly ambitious statement of intent.

The album, which was recorded in early 2017 with co-producer/engineer Josh Korody (Fucked Up, Dilly Dally), and mixed by Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Death Cab For Cutie), is densely arranged, intricately written and performed with an uncommon earnestness. While the rough and ready post-punk and lo-fi early '90s indie influences present on the band’s first recordings still provide the foundation, there is a sense of scale on display in their swelling guitar figures and sweeping string arrangements (provided by Toronto musician Paul Erlichman) that is mirrored by the songwriting of dual lead vocalists Melanie St. Pierre and Neil Bednis. The real-life couple seek to represent lived experience in immense detail - engaging with a diverse palette of references, both musical and lyrical, to explore two intensely personal perspectives of emotional growth.

Thematically, the album traverses various paths of self-exploration, from relationships to politics to death and grief, in a language inflected by an immersion in several generations of experimental guitar music, and an ambivalent grappling with the reverberations of a Catholic upbringing. Whether drawing on the poetry of William Blake (“What’s That Good For”), the dystopian sci-fi of Philip K. Dick (“Colour of the Outside”), or ruminating on mortality and evolving personal/cultural legacies through Elvis Presley and Paul Simon's trips to Graceland (“You Can Call Me Allocator”), St. Pierre and Bednis collect pieces of the world around them and imbue them with new meaning as they attempt to understand their place in it.

Bednis explains his inspiration behind the swirling standout “I Stared at ‘Moses and the Burning Bush’”, a song about the role of religion in his own experience of grief constructed around a reference to a painting by the '80s pop artist Keith Haring:

“I like the idea of exploring biblical imagery without necessarily picking sides,” says Bednis. “It’s rationed throughout the songs what my stance is, if I even have a stance. I find that religion can be therapeutic when people in your life die. When my uncle passed away, I remember sitting in the pew having the idea for the song. That day I was really contemplating the role religion plays in grief and death. Keith Haring’s weird take on a biblical story also made me feel OK about diving into that realm. Religion doesn’t necessarily need to be a sacred thing.”

The driving force behind Mercy Works is the band’s irrepressible desire to pursue new ideas and explore the expressive possibilities of the music they make. Reflexively humble, and infectiously enthusiastic, Casper Skulls are a group that see themselves as being at the beginning of their journey, an enticing prospect given the self-assuredness that underpins their debut.

“It’s so exciting to make music when you can explore what you want to explore," says Bednis. "Where we can go in terms of sound is endless. We’re big ambient music nuts so it’d be great to make an ambient record after this one, or an acoustic album. The goal is to be as freely creative as we can be as four people.”

“We’re really only at the start of being a band,” St-Pierre agrees. “Our records don’t have to move mountains as long as we’re being true to our own ideas. We want to be a slow burning candle.”
Venue Information:
The 27 Club
27 York St.
Ottawa, ON, K1N