Album is the experimental glitch-groove duo of Olivier Fairfield and Simon Provencher, two tirelessly creative musicians working in the small but fertile community of Hull, Québec. Fairfield keeps busy as a drummer and producer with acts such as Last Ex and FET.NAT, whose 2019 album Le Mal was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize. Provencher has earned his own reputation as the guitarist of frenzied post-punk group Victime, bolstering their songs with an array of alien sounds and bizarrely shaped instruments. Though the pair’s various bands have shared stages throughout the past five years, Album’s fractured beatscapes are the fruits of their first proper collaboration.
Fairfield and Provencher began working on the music that would become Album’s debut album with a series of freeform jams in late 2019. The guitarist added fretless bass and heavily processed vocals to these improvisations, as the drummer integrated vintage sci-fi sounds with a DX7 synthesizer. The most exciting moments of these sessions were then used as the basis for sampling as they sliced and diced passages back together into an eerily futuristic electroacoustic patchwork.
“It’s hard to tell what’s computer music and what’s actually played,” says Fairfield. ”There were some elements left to chance and instances where we would throw ourselves in blind, then choose to use it. Instead of saying ‘ehhh, let’s not work with this’ our instinct was to say ‘this makes absolutely no sense, but let’s make it work.’ By keeping our foundation simple, the hybrid sound of what was played and what was created electronically started to mesh together.”
While it’s difficult to pinpoint any direct influences on these unclassifiable beat-driven collages, Album contains refracted echoes of experimental hip-hop and the jazzy acoustic elements of drum and bass producer Roni Size. Fans of genre-defiant Warp Records acts such as Seefeel and Squarepusher may also find something to enjoy in Album’s blurring of ambient waves, instrumental shredding, and clicky electronica. “We thought of the ’90s as a reference point, but not any specific artists,” shrugs Provencher.
The duo decided upon their band name after including it on an early draft of the cover art with ‘Album’ written as a placeholder. Song titles like “Google rap hommage” or “New and annoying” are meant to be equally bewildering, while others provide subtle hints at the sounds included within. “108 Mystical edit 2k20” drifts through sections of abstracted g-funk and trip-hop with incantory effects-drenched vocals, before “108 Percussion hits (au moins)” settles into a rare air of propulsive tranquility. “When I hear that song I feel like I walk into a room that’s somewhat normal and can hang out there for a while,” Fairfield laughs.
While countless musicians are now forced to collaborate remotely, the pair developed instrumental chemistry that can only occur by playing together in the same room. By recording their initial sessions like a jazz album with only a few microphones, they were able to capture an air-tight instrumental bedrock that rewards close listening. “That kind of sound is hard to manufacture,” concludes Fairfield. “If we recorded guitars with amps and drums in a huge room it would be hard to distill it into what it is now. Our approach was very dry, soft playing. Everything is in the details as opposed to the girth.”
1. 108 Mystical Edit 2K20: 4:58
2. Présage Jazz: 0:34
3. New & Annoying: 2:31
4. Interlude: 1:11
5. Hommage å M. Cusson Pour M. Hoek: 2:34
6. Google Rap Hommage: 5:04
7. 165 Refrains: 2:24
8. 108 Y2K Voice: 2:38
9. 108 Percussion Hits (au moins): 4:53
10. Mood Allée Cinq: 2:53
11. La Derniére:
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