By Rob Pearson
CALGARY — The Besnard Lakes are a band with a righteous mission. Since 2003 they have taken their time to build and shape their dense psychedelic grooves into wave after wave of meditative, yet obliterating crescendos. Whether experienced live, or lying on your bed with your eyes closed and headphones turned way up, these songs overwhelm the senses and wash over the listener with a sense of surrender akin to a blissful calm amidst devastating catastrophe. Jace Lasek (guitar, vocals, production) explains to BeatRoute, that a great deal of their musical inspiration is derived from their time spent camping at the lake in northern Saskatchewan from which they derive their name.
“We have a permanent campsite up there, so we make the pilgrimage from Montreal every year. We try and take about two or three weeks off and just go up there,” Lasek says.
“Everybody’s got to get away for a little bit, walk away from this crazy world. It’s hard to get your mind off of checking your phone all the time, and checking your emails. You can’t do that up there, so you just kind of sit in beautiful silence — it’s amazing.”
Attempting to bottle the feeling of serenity that they find there, the band then sets to work, passionately constructing the songs that will share the experience with their audience. Their aim is not exactly political, but intentionally disruptive to the oftentimes-relentless routines of daily urban life.
“It’s an extension of going up to Besnard Lakes. We really want people to feel that sort of blissful moment where there’s not a care in the world, and you don’t think about anything except for the moment that you’re actually in right now, at the show. We want people to get lost — for an hour, hour and a half, or two hours — in our music, to try and help people forget the pains of the world.”
In the past, The Besnard Lakes have employed more occult and surreptitious means of intervening in the reality of their fans, like engraving magically imbued symbols called sigils onto little tags and distributing them with limited edition vinyl. Their music however remains their most powerful medium for magic.
“Visual art is interesting because you can stare at something for a while and it’ll make you feel a certain way. Music is a bit more forceful in that it’s intangible. It’s created, but you can’t grasp it, it engulfs you physically and you can feel it. It’s really special and magical for us.”
The Besnard Lakes perform at The Palomino on June 23rd as part of Sled Island.AB, Alberta, Palomino, Sled Island 2016, The Besnard Lakes