Pigeon Breeders: Paying homage to a key fallen space 

Friday 08th, December 2017 / 12:00
By Kennedy Pawluk 

Pigeon Breeder’s first record in two year is a raw live set of chaos. 
Photo by Allison Dragsten

CALGARY – Much has happened in the two years since Pigeon Breeders’ last release. A member has jumped ship to a new city, there have been many collaborations, a number of shows and finally a new release. December 15 will see the release of Pigeon Breeders new album Live at Skymall. The album is a collection of two recordings of past performances at now defunct Edmonton house venue Skymall, as an homage to the death of it and all the memories that took place in that tiny basement.  

Side A was recorded back in 2014 at a Bermuda Fest afterparty that took place at Skymall. The track features Pigeon Breeders in their original form with Myles Bartel, Will Scott and Tyler Harland. Since the recording Tyler has moved to the east coast and has focused on other life pursuits. Oddly enough, despite Harland’s absence in live performances, his presence is still strong within Pigeon Breeders as the band has an extensive archive of recordings with him that they someday wish to release in one from or another. “The Side A recording with Tyler is just something we’ve always loved. We always thought it was one of our best live performances. Even the experience. The audience was super into it, but it actually just flows like one of our best sets without any editing,” says Scott. 

Like early Pigeon Breeders releases, the Live at Skymall recordings take a much more raw approach. “Pretty much the only editing we did was take out all the silence in the beginning and just let it start right away. On these recordings once the performance starts we didn’t do any edits. Most of our other releases there’s edits here and there, cross fading and stuff, every once in a while we’d add in a little overdub,” says Bartel.  

Side B is the product of a much more recent show at Skymall from this past May and features Smokey of Smokey and the Feelings. As Scott recalls, “That was our first live set with him.  We had seen him play Drone Service once and that’s when we asked him. I just recently found his Smokey and the Feelings record and I thought it was the best record of 2016. I had heard some of his experimental tape stuff and thought, ‘Oh this would sound good with us.’ He had played a set or two with Dave Schaefer of Zebra Pulse as Boy Church and we thought it would be really cool to work with him at some point.”  

“One interesting thing that’s newer is the use of tapes, as Tyler didn’t use tape samples, so that was really cool. Smokey has his own thing… his own aesthetic, and I think it’s a conscious thing. He thinks about how he wants to present these sounds [which is] different than Tyler. We really like it and we also just like his personality. When we jam together its smooth, we laugh, we joke around,” Scott recalls. 

Being a live album, there’s a rawness to the tracks that is undeniable. There’s a chemistry within the tracks that shines through on these recordings that would be near impossible to capture in a traditional recording setting. Bartel concludes that “The last album was performed all improvised, but the nature of the listening experience is a lot more put together. It was picked apart from a bunch of different sources and we spent a lot of time on it making it just right, so it doesn’t have the same organic approach of just editing down one night of material. I personally like change, so I like trying out the different ways. We do have a system though that we’re comfortable with, so even this is a little weird for us, because we’re releasing a live record with no edits. So, it’s just out there and there’s parts on it that I wish we could have trimmed down a bit, but we decided no let’s keep this pure.”  

Live at Skymall will be released on December 15 at the Sewing Machine Factory with Soft Ions, L.N. Baba and Molan as a joint release with Double Lunch Records and Sweety Pie Records (a product of Skymall).

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