Reviewed by Jack Derricourt
Doom folk: a genre that sounds like a movie title. Canadian gothic: another genre, which threatens parody, but comes out wholehearted upon further inspection. Think Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack. And now, think The Unquiet Grave.
Out on Arachnidiscs just in time for halloween, the artist’s newest tape release, Whispers In the Wind, hints at ghost stories still unwritten. The modern world is alive throughout the lyrics of the record, but it seems to be dying too quickly to save. The artist always has the right word to remind us that things are more depraved and sunken than we might imagine: in the insistent, disonant landscape of “Running Towards the Money,” a pop format begets a lesson of intimacy and greed: “And the light from your eyes / how quickly it dies to me / cause you’re running for the money.” The track sounds like watching cut up, scratched out clips of Wolf of Wall Street in black and white.
The atmosphere of detachment — stimulated by the artist’s echoing voice and the muted drum machine beats found throughout the album’s material– is surprising given the personal level from which the lyrics are delivered, and the completeness of the songs. The slight level of abstraction comes from the delivery and production of the material: dark, in every way. Not Norwegian black metal dark, but freezing Northern Ontario moose carcass dark. Seriously, listen to “Haunted” — I guarantee there’s a dead moose in there somewhere
Variety is the center and circumference of the album. Electronic sounds might dominate one track like “20,000 Years of Suffering,” but then guitars and vocals alone will guide a track like “Celebrity Life” to fruition. The thematic tension remains throughout the shifting platforms of sound, demonstrating The Unquiet Grave’s range of arrangement. It takes a wise artist to pick between Bowie-esque descending synth wails and out of tune acoustic guitar strums; both are creepy, but only one can be right at the right time.
The Unquiet Grave has his finger on a devilish pulse in Canadian music. Whisper In the Wind will frighten the children from your porch at Halloween if you switch it with your tried and tested haunted house sound effects tape. It is not a pleasant listen as a record, but I don’t believe that was the intention behind its making. The music asks to be attacked by the ear, and the music is ready to answer with ghostly clarity. Let this creepy tape freak you out: it’s the Canadian gothic way.
Top Tracks: “Haunted” , “Celebrity Lie”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Very Good)