While Toronto‘s Castle If usually fires up her analog synths to launch the listener into far-off galaxies, this beautifully realized collection of songs turns earthward to capture the essence of a family of house plants. It’s a cross between the pop- and drone-focused sides of her output, a series of seven melodic instrumental experiments, many named for the Latin moniker of the plant that inspired it.
Plants aren’t something we often ascribe personalities to (remember how hard it was to play a flower or a tree in your kindergarten play?), but each one here is its own individual, expressed through deep vibratos, purring middle tones or dancing upper voices. It’s easy to imagine something green growing, waving and dancing to each composition. We recommend forgoing headphones for this one–your plants just might like it, too.
We have been waiting with bated breath for some new Castle If since pretty much forever. Her collaborations with Cell Memory are what put her on our radar, and her debut krautrock EP from 2012 made us stick around. The long-form electro-prog seems rooted in many of the same influences as Silent Shout favourite Femminielli, and the talent is just as evident, but with the exception of many phenomenal live performances, we hadn’t heard a true statement from the project. Finally, we have two new songs that are worthy of the building anticipation that exceed all previous expectations.
Castle If was commissioned to make a performance video by The Mendel in Saskatoon for the art gallery’s 50th anniversary. Taking a few liberties, she collaborated with video artist Lisa Folkerson (who directed Ken Park’s phenomenal “He Says I’m an Island” video last year), and produced what she refers to as “more of a cable-access-style television performance than a music video.”
“Sector 03″—the title track of a forth-coming sci-fi concept record— features a snarling monster of a bass-line that creates the backdrop for vocoded tales of woe and sadness. Meanwhile, “The Surge” goes in different direction: a perfectly contained nugget of a pop-song that wouldn’t sound out of place on an alternate universe Ladytron record. Behind it all are Folkerson’s projections, which create the perfect space for Castle If to do her thing, and allows the immaculately produced songs to speak for themselves.
Sector 03 has officially become the most anticipated album here at our office, and while we know that good things come to those that wait, we need to hear this ASAP. In the meantime, those in Toronto can catch Castle If this Thursday at the Gladstone’s Come Up To My Room at a showcase curated by Ottawa’s Debaser and Weird Canada.
If you live in Toronto, it’s an undeniable fact that Phèdre wrote one of the best summer jam ever with “In Decay.” That song was EVERYWHERE when it came out in 2012. Their two albums, last year’s Golden Age and a self-titled debut in 2012, are amazing and will hold up for generations to come. They also have one of the weirdest, most engaging live shows this side of our namesake.
We’re thrilled to co-present them on the Thursday February 13th instalment of the Wavelength Festival at the Silver Dollar with many other amazing bands. Daniel Lee of Phèdre (and the also amazing Hooded Fang) took some time out of his day to pick some bands he loves and the reasons for that.
Man Made Hill is a king in my mind. He goes the distance in performance, videos, and his skewed-disco epic tracks.
I’ve been a fan of Castle If for a little while now. The tracks on this release are really long, and that is just fine with me. It sounds thoughtful and and kind of invokes feelings of warm insanity.
Zacht Automaat are one of the few groups that we’ve listened to a lot this year. These recordings are mindblowing, as is the rate of output. We are blessed to have this in our city. I don’t even have words to explain it. A compilation was just released on Calico Co.
Ken Park makes really good emotion-inducing hypnotic dance tracks. A nice debut record coming out soon, which I can’t wait for. He also has perfect pitch hearing, and I don’t understand how that is possible.
Ice Cream are an amazing Toronto duo, with just one track up so far. We met Carlyn through her guitar playing work with Blonde Elvis, and she exudes the same class and great taste in playing in this group. Her bandmate is also awesome. The overall aesthetic is ice and minimal and drum machine driven, but nice and analog as well, with live bass and keys. Smart pop.