By Caroline Reynolds
EDMONTON – No strangers to Edmonton’s music scene, Dara Humniski (The Lad Mags) and Amy van Keeken (The Secretaries, The AwesomeHots) have recently released a four song EP titled Awake Asleep under the name Mysticeti.
Mysticeti has melded our favourite aspects of these respected muses to create a hypnotizing resonance on Awake Asleep. Haunting voices, electric sonority and ambient sounds create a nostalgic illusion for the listener to drift into.
“I think we’re both interested in capturing an honest feeling or rawness of something, and not interested in perfection or clean sterility,” explains Humniski.
The EP derives deep inspiration from the duo’s three-week artist residency this past summer at Break’Art Mix (BAM) in Paris. The osmosis of the Parisian experience is clear in their title track, “Awake Asleep.”
“It’s about that murky, deep moment between sleep and reality, or that layer of misunderstanding that comes from being hazily drunk, not knowing if you are dreaming or awake. Like swimming in a lake and trying to look through dark emerald water.”
Manifesting deep atmospheric drones, the song could easily be a soundtrack for a band of monks retreating into a monastery. This phantom essence resides throughout the whole album.
The crashing bells from the Notre Dame Cathedral draw the curtains on the second track. Captured on zoom recorder, Mysticeti infuses the ancient chimes with shuffling voices of passersby, creating a natural transport into the centre of crowded European streets.
“Dissecting the melodies of the bells, we composed this song on the beautiful soft piano at the residency…. Dara added ambient electric guitar and Doug (Organ of Edmonton synth pop act Le Plaisir) washed dishes in the background.”
When asked about the unusual dish filled field recording, Humniski explains, “it made sense to keep it in and not try to ‘fix’ it by scrubbing that out. The residency is in a small apartment and you share the space with the two lovely hosts. There is a beautiful old piano in the space, not a ton of privacy, but it’s warm and open and we didn’t want to erase that texture and reality.”
The final song on the album, “Night River,” binds the album together with a groovier tune. Drawing from the “influence of ‘60s French pop,” the backing organ creates the illusion of walking through European streets at night with a gang of mischievous ghouls.
Awake Asleep is available now on Scorpio 76 Records. You can listen to it now at https://mysticeti.bandcamp.com/album/awake-asleep. Watch for Mysteceti’s live appearances and music videos throughout the fall and winter.Awake Asleep, Mysticeti, rock, Scorpio 76 Records