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Raleigh: Third LP a Sprawling Cosmic Landscape

Monday 02nd, October 2017 / 15:01

Photo by Unfolding Creative

By Jarrett Edmund

CALGARY – After two full length releases, Calgary baroque pop outfit Raleigh did what any artist would do when searching for inspiration: they packed their bags and headed west to the mountains. Banff’s Independent Music Residency to be exact, where they workshopped their newest release with a cavalcade of talented musicians and producers including new bandmate Will Maclellan. “It was a unique situation,” says co-vocalist Clea Anaïs, “there’s a sense of pressure because we only had just over a week.” The residency allowed them to work with one new engineer each day; with names like Kevin Drew, Charles Spearin and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene fame. Despite the time crunch, Raleigh maintained a clear vision throughout the process, says guitarist and co-lead Brock Geiger. “The focus of the residency was very workshop-based. It was very much a collaboration. Once things started going we got hyper-ambitious and kept things rolling. We made sure what we wanted got done.”

However the sprawling cosmic landscape of their third LP, Powerhouse Bloom, wouldn’t be fully conceived without further gestation. So the newly formed quartet did what any artist would do when searching for inspiration: they packed their bags and headed east to The Bathouse, an eclectic private studio-mansion situated on six acres of dense forest outside of Kingston, Ontario. It was there, working more intimately with producer Nyles Spencer, that Powerhouse Bloom took full shape. “The space it occupies is a different planet than any of our other records” says Geiger. “Subconsciously we wanted to embrace that in the whole aesthetic of the record. And some of the conscious choices we’ve made have crossed over into territories that would not normally be classified as indie rock music.” These conscious and subconscious departures from the conventional allowed the band to focus on crafting unique and multi-layered textural soundscapes. Maclellan adds “it was a matter of digging-in and experimenting, but also being hypercritical. One of songs features a salad spinner with a piece of paper rattling around in it. We have to catch each other and ask ‘Is this idea cool or is it too crazy?’”

If Powerhouse Bloom doesn’t fit into a distinct musical genre, that’s because its creators weren’t terribly interested in categorizing themselves. “Each song on this record was never forced into a form, or felt like it had to be something,” explains Geiger. “We never felt like a particular track had to be the single. We let each one settle and become what the song was asking for, instead of what we were asking the song to be.” This approach allowed the music to reach for a distinct emotionality, according to Maclellan. “You’re always looking for a feeling you want to evoke, but you’re never quite sure how to get there.”

With a constantly evolving sound and a gamut of new tools and tricks at their disposal, Powerhouse Bloom is not only a departure from the confinements of indie rock, it is a departure from this planet all together. “That’s what we want people to experience and that’s why we’re excited to share it” says Anaïs. “We’re super grateful for the opportunity to work with so many professionals and other musicians who brought their experience, knowledge, and time to this project. It was a real treat to learn to take our crazy ideas and make them crazier. It’s pretty self-indulgent to make a record that way and we’re pretty lucky.”

Powerhouse Bloom lands September 29th.

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