Secret City Records’ Thus Owls are a Montreal based group, formed by Erika and Simon Angell in 2007. Their new EP Black Matter is out on preorder now.
They have a distinct Scandinavian sound; experimental cinematic music with emotive and direct vocals, taken from an ambient melay of noise into an eery and warped almost spiritual offering.
Production is key, using layers of strings and classical chorus lines behind Erika’s main melody, this verges on an orchestral old world sound.
This year’s tour sees them coming to the UK in November. Passing through Oxford, Islington and Manchester they end with German, Belgian and Dutch dates. It’s clear they will be well received in Germany, this sound thrives in the bohemia of Berlin just as much as heavier electronic artists and DJ’s.
Simon Angell rose from the ranks of playing in Patrick Watson’s group to forming the Montreal based Thus Owls with his other half and singer Erika, formerly of Lonely Dear.. The Swedish-Canadian duo formed from their improvised and experimental music roots, the sound is unique to them due to the Scandinavian soundscape they create.
Vocally the direct delivery and poignant simple lyrics are similar to Karin Park, Fever Ray, Chelsea Wolfe and maybe even Bjork. It is in the innocence and clarity of the words and tone that brings the wandering deer into the night of the beasts. Classical melodies and use of strings waning out of pitch, an ornament I am a great fan of, could sit perfectly in the soundtrack to any American arthouse or Innaritu film, a flailing vulnerable figure in the barren landscape. Influences clearly come from folk, experimental and new wave, with the addition of classical undertones. With 2 albums the duo alone made, “Cardiac Malformations” and “Harbours” released in 2009 and 2011 respectively, they fully formed as an ensemble with Stefan Schneider, Parker Shper and Martin
Höper in 2012 in Montreal. Their 3rd album “Turning Rocks” was made and released from the full band. “Black Matter” is their newest offering, available to preoder.
“Turn Up The Volumes”, the latest single from the EP, shows a new innovation in their writing. An arpeggiator in the synth line jolts along to a close sharp vocal line, that swiftly falls into soft percussion, soft vocal calls and strings. The feel could almost be jazz with the kit they use, but a heavy pulsing bass and stabs of synth brings it up to date. This is a folk ballad and a call to the wild, Kate Bush in the 00’s. The song builds and soars, Erika lets herself go, this is a song of release from years of entrapment. A short pause, and the synth reintroduces its relentless rolling pattern. Very simple in recording, orchestration and production, however it evokes the story and tradition of some long forgotten love. The last and final build, bass supporting the layers of strings, the chorus rising alongside her cries, until it falls again. Classical in dynamic and shape the song is a truly intelligent statement of art and evolution. I cannot wait to here what they do next, and the rest of “Black Matter” I’m sure will be equally as sublime.
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