Some things are just meant to happen. For proof just plug into the highly charged self-titled debut from Night Plow, available now from the venerable We Are Busy Bodies. It’s a pulsating electronic offering carved out from the partnership of bassist/beat maker Tim Lefebrve and keyboard afficionado Gregory MacDonald (aka Cola Wars), a spontaneous collaboration that thrives on the novelty of their almost incidental coming together.
More detailed required? Both musicians were part of New Age Doom’s semi-virtual collective convened for the powerful and poignant Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Guide To The Universe’, released on WABB in 2021, which sadly proved to be the great Upsetter’s last effort. Following the project there was a phone call, an idea to jointly make some electro-noise charged tunes and Night Plow came to be. With bass and rhythmic foundations despatched from Lefebrve’s Tuscon HQ to Toronto, where MacDonald added the synthesiser detail and disturbance, everything got connected and everything flowed. The result, Night Plow, is a refreshingly uncluttered, beat driven electronic record with an aim to simply embrace the format.
It’s an album that’s inevitably pacey and urgent as if MacDonald and Lefebrve have no time to lose. That immediacy sparks some rapid techno responses. The Frumper squelches and skitters through a screen burning flicker of scrambled coding with a Richard James disregard for deceleration. It’s frenetic and furious but fabulously wild. As is the glitchy The Shame Parade which tempers the rush and boom with melodramatic shards of echoing synth strings for added spooky escapism. That same classy filmic sweep soars over the rumbling beats of The Blackouts Of 1943 where sirens and alarmed phrases provide shadowy spy-thriller atmospherics.
Night Plow’s New Age Doom connection can still be found crackling through the riff crunching demolition of Crow Moving, a cut with industrial blasts of Bambaataa informed precision. The title track works from a similar reference point, heavy pulsing electro rock with a relentless forward momentum in which Lefebrve’s muscular bass-lines assume a Prodigy-like stance. It’s a tune that neatly captures the intuitive understanding of our impromptu duo, from the trip-hop minimal piano loop to the ticking percussive switches every fine detail has impact.
Night Plow also show their experience through the pacing over the whole album. Yes they can mix it up but when they do it doesn’t jolt or disrupt, there’s a natural continuity here. Amanda clears the air, its deep funky twitch and fluttering synths bringing an electro-house lightness that gets ripped with the sharpest hip-hop breaks. Similar EDM uplift comes with Get Down, a swift Max Headroom interlude of abandoned Euro-disco/acid rave playfulness that pumps along without caring. MacDonald and Lefebrve also welcome melodica into the Night Plow landscape on the swaggering then swooning $1.49 Day and the quirky Kosmische skip of Just Wait Til I Get My Van. Digging for their inner Orbital is not wasted energy.
That Night Plow unravels so seamlessly should not be unexpected. This pair of musicians are well into the development phase of their journey through sound. MacDonald has been a long standing touring member of alt rock giants Sloan, plays in Limblifter and his solo electronic album last year as Cola Wars rustled up deserved attention. Primarily known as a bass player, Lefebrve is renowned for his cross-genre brilliance, from rock, jazz and onto fusion. Well respected for his work with jazzers from Wayne Krantz to Danny McCaslin, he was also a member of the Blackstar band that played on Bowie’s final album. So pushing for the experimental and trying something fresh is part of both artists’ m.o. and ongoing motivation.
That shared leftfield energy prevents Night Plow from getting stuck in any sort of rut. Yes the framework is electronic but there’s no limitations to how that gets interpreted on this heady release. Listen to the extended stomp of Shit’s Getting Pretty Goated Out Here to pick up on the flow as it pounds from noise dynamics to Krautrock kinetics. Seriously twanging bass patterns in the siren assisted wind down add some inspired surrealist disruption to anything you might expect. Then there’s the closing, ironically titled Tim Ruins Everything, a calming piece of levitating ambience, all bowed chords and bass resonance set within a white noise swarm. Part Pastorius heart-melter, part cavernous drone, it’s eerily soothing and unsettlingly final. Night Plow laid to rest…for now.
It’s that lack of agenda that gives this album a freedom and vitality, there’s no template to follow or trick that we want to be repeated. Sure there’s a touch of rummaging through electro stylings but that’s all part of the excitement. Night Plow captures the freshness, enthusiasm and invention of Gregory MacDonald and Tim Lebebrve’s collaboration and allows us to celebrate that very moment.
Get your copy of ‘Night Plow’ by Night Plow from your local record store or direct from We Are Busy Bodies on Bandcamp