Very rarely does a band name articulate exactly what you’re going to get, but Montreal’s Saxsyndrum is one of those names. Sound out the name phonetically and you should be pronouncing “sax n’ drum.” Indeed, Nick Schofield pounds on the percussion and does synths, and David Switchenko plays some mean tenor sax.
You would be forgiven, however, in prouncing Saxsyndrum as “sax syndrome,” because Future Circus, the second full-length from this duo, is catchy as hell. If this album doesn’t inspire almost immediate grooving to the beat then you must not be hearing it correctly.
The seven tracks also feature one guest each. The guest roles are not always immediately apparent, but can usually be heard in the atmospheric “ahhs” and “oohs” that populate the songs. Probably the most noticeable guest appearance comes courtesy of Akua Carson in “Give Thanks.” If you’re familiar with her project A K U A, you’ll quickly recognize her trademark vocal loops.
So what do the songs sound like exactly? Describing an instrumental experience is always tough, but picture crystalline synths over a simple jazz structure. The combination of synths, percussion and sax is unbeatable, providing an endless array of “moods” in each song. “Heartstrings (ft. Holobody),” much like its name, feels like a song exploding with happiness and maybe even love. “Les Belles Nanas (ft. Emma Frank),” starts sounding like suspenseful chase music, and also probably best fits the album title with its circus-esque sax riffs.
In some cases the synths and sax are so in sync that it’s hard to separate which sound is coming from where, making this record deeply immersive. The last two songs work well as individual showcases for the two players, though. “Yoyo Wah (ft. Felicity Hammer),” is much heavier on the synths, while “Alley Cat (ft. Folly & the Hunter)” is much heavier on the sax, and features the men of the band providing the “ahhs” for an interesting contrast.
Again much like its name might suggest, Future Circus is absolutely wild, and that’s what makes it so thrilling.
Top Tracks: “Give Thanks”; “Les Belles Nanas”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) +*swoop*