by Laura Stanley
Montreal band Future States describe their music using a Venn diagram. In this diagram (a description credited to guitarist Brodie Conley), one circle is pop music and the other instrumental experimentation. Future States live in the hazy cross-section; their music a convergence of tightly arranged psych-pop and experimentation built on classical arrangements and improvisation. A world cast in vivid hues and constantly abuzz.
Casual Listener – out now via the Portland label Golden Brown – is the band’s third release in as many years. Future States have a scattered beginning before eventually connecting in Montreal. Guitarist Conley and Chuck Bronson met and started collaborating in high school while keyboardist Nick Hyatt and bassist David Lacalamita met and began collaborating in university. When in Montreal enrolled in an audio tech program, Bronson met Hyatt and Lacalamita and introduced them to Conley, who currently lives in Ottawa. At the cafe that Lacalamita used to work at, he met the multi-talented Daniel Gélinas who plays drums and is the primary producer for the band.
“It took us a while to congeal musically,” admits Hyatt. “Very clearly at the beginning, Brodie and Chuck had a sound worked out. Dave and myself and Dan were a lot more into classical music and arrangements. It took the first two EPs for us to really meet.”
When Future States were recording material for a video project last year, the band, who hadn’t planned on making an EP, decided to record additional songs that would become Cassiopeia. According to Hyatt, the time restraint the band was under forced them to expriment which ended up being a creative turning point for the band.
“It was a very tight timeline and so out of pragmatism, decided to do it live off the floor. It really pushed us to build our sound on the spot,” Hyatt says.
“I definitely think that we grew as a band and also in terms of listening. I think that you listen really differently when you do stuff together rather than when you’re tracking.”
With its intricate arrangements and diverse manipulation of sounds, Future States’ maturation is wholly apparent on Casual Listener. The band took their refined collaborative approach to the same church they recorded their self-titled EP – in Conley and Bronson’s hometown of Timmins, ON. The open recording environment was ideal for Future States to play around in.
“We would spend half of the day recording songs and half the time, mics were on and we were just messing around and creating these soundscapes or just sounds basically,” explains Bronson.
“If we [recorded] in a smaller studio, I don’t think we would have done as much play. Every day we’d start the tape and we’d just play and rehearse for an hour or two so a lot of the improvisations on the album stem from that,” says Hyatt.
Scattered throughout Casual Listener – a title which holds multiple meanings but is primarily a reference to our rapidly declining attention span – are moments of instrumental cacophony, some sounds distinguishable, others an indistinct, but glorious, mess. The last moments of “Apostolic,” for instance, sounds like what plays when you lose on a circa 1997 arcade game while “FF” sounds like the quick snippets of your music library when you rapidly skip songs on the shuffle setting.
“By the time we left the church we had a very strong feeling that there was extra material that would be included and so we gave Dan the go to work with all of the material we recorded to put stuff together,” says Hyatt. “We kind of knew that the songs needed some breathing room or something, we were referring to them as palette cleansers when we left the church. Ways to let the material sit and also capture the fun of recording in a space like that.”
In all, a confident collage of sounds.
As Hyatt explains, “I think now that we’ve had the time to learn what each person brings, I think that this is an album where you can really hear from the beginning that we’re approaching it from our respective spots and the sound reflects that.”
Future States are touring the East Coast right now! For all dates, click here.