Imagine for a moment, if you will, gazing up at blue skies dotted with cumulus clouds as you lay in the tall green grass of a deserted field. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a shining silver extraterrestrial vehicle darts into view, yanking you from your moment of serenity. “Our songs build out of an atmospheric haze into a raucous epicness. If you were staring up at the clouds on a nice relaxing day and you saw a UFO, it would shock you. That’s kind of how we do things – we have these quiet, ambient, ethereal moments, and then we just blast into loudness,” says the Besnard Lakes vocalist, guitarist and producer Jace Lasek.
Montreal-based indie rockers the Besnard Lakes have been making shoegaze music for nearly a decade. They’re known and loved for their take on the genre, building to psychedelic instrumental Shangri-La with hazy vocals swimming in guitar reverb. The band’s newest album, Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO, sends listeners on a journey, into a state of altered consciousness where you are guided from start to finish by a distant siren’s beckon layered with dreamy synth sounds.
Losing yourself in the music is just what Lakes would have for their listeners. “It’s more about the idea of being able to have an experience and alter your state of where you are and go somewhere else,” states Lasek. Songs like “And Her Eyes Were Painted Gold” bring to mind a five-and-a-half-minute elevator ride to a rooftop garden paradise, with bouncy xylophone notes echoing over a tinny intercom. Meanwhile, tracks like “46 Satires” reinforce Lakes’ continued success with this surprisingly transcendent style of music, despite strong evidence they’re of a dying breed.
Their vintage sound married with otherworldly effects reflects the band’s personal approach to music production. “Music recording really hasn’t changed that much in 50, 60 years: we still use the same microphones they built in the ’50s… we still use tape machines that were built in the ’70s… Digital recording has taken a real leap, it’s allowed people to make records in their bedroom but, still, it’s a tape recorder in its essence.” muses Lasek.
As co-founder of the combo analog and digital recording studio, Breakglass Studios, Lasek and the Besnard Lakes are clearly influenced by their taste for traditional recording techniques and equipment infused with a touch of the modern. Music production enthusiasts may simply gawk and drool in the presence of the studio’s functionally upgraded 968 Neve Pre 80 Series input console – essentially the Rolls Royce of analog mixing consoles, hand-wired and in limited supply.
Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO offers much of the same musical architecture and ambient escapism that brings die-hard fans back album after album. New listeners are rewarded with an education on a unique sub-genre, with top-notch production values sweetening the deal. With their latest album marked by cornerstones of music bending both time and space, the Besnard Lakes’ latest offering will provide an appetizing experience for diverse audiences.
Catch ’em June 20 at Commonwealth and June 21 at Olympic Plaza.
By Adriana SveenAB, Alberta