Posts Tagged ‘Ben Shemie’

Montreal band Suuns are pleased to announce their new album, “Felt”, coming out on March 2nd through Secretly Canadian. Singer/guitarist Ben Shemie says, “This record is definitely looser than our last one [2016’s Hold/Still]. It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger.” You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks on Felt. It’s both a continuation and rebirth, the Montreal quartet returning to beloved local facility Breakglass Studios (where they cut their first two albums [Zeroes QC and Images Du Futur] with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes) but this time recording themselves at their own pace, over five fertile sessions spanning several months. A simultaneous stretching out and honing in, mixed to audiophile perfection by St. Vincent producer John Congleton (helmer of Hold/Still), who flew up especially from Dallas to deploy his award-winning skills in situ.

The album’s lead single “Watch You, Watch Me” debuts today  in the form of a Ruff Murphy-directed video. The song showcases an organic/synthetic rush that builds and builds atop drummer Liam O’Neill‘s elevatory rhythm. O’Neill exclaims, “It was different and exciting. In the past, there was a more concerted effort on my part to drum in a controlled and genre-specific way. Self-consciously approaching things stylistically. Us doing it ourselves, that process was like a very receptive, limitless workshop to just try out ideas.”

Suuns are hugely proud of their roots in Canada’s most socialist province, whilst not sounding quite like anything else the city has produced. Quebecois natives Shemie and Joseph Yarmush founded the group just over a decade ago, the latter having moved to Montreal from a nearby village. The only member not to be formally schooled in jazz, guitarist Yarmush studied photography and utilized his visual training to help realize Shemie’s novel concept for the eye-catching album artwork.

“I was at a barbecue last summer and there were balloons everywhere,” recalls the singer. “I like this idea of pressure, resistance, and pushing against something just before it brakes. And there is something strangely subversive about a finger pushing into a balloon. It seemed to fit the vibe of the record we were making. We made plaster casts of our hands, going for a non-denominational statue vibe. Joe came up with the colour scheme, the sickly green background, and shot the whole cover in an hour.”

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It’s a suitably outre image for Felt, which breaks with Suuns’ earlier darkness for a more optimistic ambience. The record’s playful atmosphere is echoed by its double meaning title. “Some people might think of the material,” muses Shemie. “I like that that could be misconstrued. Also it’s to have felt and not to feel a little introspective, but that feeling’s in the past.”

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It’s not hard to understand why the latest album from Montreal rockers Suuns didn’t seem to catch quickly upon release; it’s not an easy album. This is a four listen album at least in a one listen world. It takes a tremendous amount of trust in a band, from the fans, from the label, from the producer (John Congleton) to allow them to push so far ahead musically into a place almost completely untethered from the present, but ultimately it was the right move. A band consumed by the future, they experiment tremendously with space on this album, as in periods of silence between notes that serve as their own instrument. Gradually as one listens, the realization sinks in that your mind and ears weren’t ready for this type of album yet.

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Montreal’s Suuns create some of the most sinister music of the moment. The quartet, whose name is pronounced “soons,” make their synths and guitars needle and throb, while the beats behind them land with a deadly depth. There’s a bit of vintage Suicide in the sound, only slower, as well as some Velvet Underground, but with even more drone. Suuns formed in 2007 with singer/guitarist Ben Shemie (who sounds like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on thorazine) and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmus. Their debut, , “Zeroes QC” had songs you could dance to. Only Frankenstein’s monster could shake it to the new one. Luckily, its shrouded mood draws you in, clicking, flickering and twisting in a world of dark wonder.