Ian Jarvis, the mastermind behind chairs, is a busy man. He managed to record and produce The Droning of an Insect Wing over the past two years while also flying from Montreal to Alberta to be part of the Calgary-based Ghostkeeper for its third album. He also toured with Ghostkeeper member Jay Crocker, all the while taking part in two Montreal bands: You, yourself, and I and EXPWY.
Maybe producing chairs’ second album in a home studio was simply the only way he could continue to work on the record with his travel schedule. Still, the home production helps The Droning of an Insect Wing, giving it a refreshingly authentic lo-fi sound, especially on the vocals.
The first track of the album, “Indestructible Machine”, begins with a swirling, rising synth intro before Jarvis’ impressive modified vocals take over. As the song begins its slow buildup, the beat and the rhythm of the vocals begin to create something you’d want to dance to.
“Three in the Morning/Breathe Underwater” again has Jarvis’ peculiar way of reciting certain lyrics in a sing-song voice that plays on where the emphasis of a word should be—creating a strange storytelling sensation even as he harmonizes with the music. The track also brings out the 60s rock influence that makes up much of EXPWY’s sound.
“Future” slows things down with more simplistic vocals and a resonating echo underscoring each line. The soft drum work elegantly accentuates the steady delivery of the lines as the song balances between mellow and dark. Follower, “Chain Reaction”, starts to bear a striking resemblance to MGMT with broken up lyrics and a fusion of synths and instrumentals.
Things remain mellow through “Intangibles” and “Heart”, continuing the same mix of psychedelic synth rock with a more 60s sound that makes the album so thoroughly enjoyable. “Sifting Through Debris” is the shortest song on the album, coming in at just under two minutes, which is a pity because the rhythmic drumming is incredibly catchy.
“Tide Pools” feels inspired by East Coast folk music with fast paced string picking, but once paired with the vocals is obviously more closely influenced by Jarvis’ Prairie experiences. “Wooden Fish”, the last track on the album, is much more instrumental than the rest of the tracks, and as well done as the psych-rock is, there’s no denying how well Jarvis can work with a handful of instruments and his voice.
Sounding like someone threw some indie pop, MGMT, and the Beatles into a blender and added a sprinkle of folk, The Droning of an Insect Wing has a timeless lo-fi feel that makes for a very pleasant listen if you’re looking to sit back and chill after a hectic day.
Top Tracks: “Indestructible Machine”; “Sifting Through Debris”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*