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SAM 29 JUIN | MOONRIIVR en direct au Motel Chelsea | 21h

MOONRIIVR nous rappelle l'époque précédant la mort de la musique : une époque où les percussions country et le fanfaronnade secouant les hanches vivaient côte à côte.

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25$ (plus taxes) à la porte.

The songs on MOONRIIVR’s aptly titled debut, Vol. 1, came together on an old analogue tape machine, laced with sweetly reverberating slide guitars, wonky string synths, and nimble percussive environments. MOONRIIVR's knack for creating sonic worlds that are at once lightly trippy and wholly inviting means that, as much as Vol. 1 draws on inspirations from decades past, it maintains a pleasing, distinctly out-of-time feel. The band half-jokingly likened the album to “Buddy Holly meets Krautrock”, and strange as it sounds it's not far off the mark.

Thematically, the songs are wide ranging, providing a winning contrast to the laser focus of MOONRIIVR's sonic architecture. Running the gamut from personal reflections on finding pleasure in the minutiae of everyday life on “Blonde Hair Now” to meditations on some of the more disturbing and inescapable developments in world politics over the last few years (“Midnight at the Garden Hotel”, “Flowers on the Fire Escape”), Gardiner deftly addresses these seemingly disparate thought-poles with a balance of opacity and directness. While not beating the listener over the head, Gardiner doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics, be it climate change or navigating friendship schisms that developed around divergent pandemic politics. It's the kind of record that can thrum warmly in the background but also pays dividends for those listeners willing to dig a little deeper.

In the spring of 2020, early days of the pandemic, Gavin Gardiner – best known as the front person for Juno-nominated indie-folk mainstays The Wooden Sky, and as a producer & engineer at All Day Coconut studios for artists such as Fiver, Jason Collett, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson – visited his friend “Champagne” James Robertson at the Robertson family farm north of Toronto. After years touring as lead guitar with acts like Lindi Ortega and Dwayne Gretzky, Robertson was similarly adrift during those strange early pandemic days. The two had been circling around each other in the Toronto music scene when the chance to collaborate landed in front of them. Armed with a vintage Tascam 388 tape recorder, mellotron and a nylon string guitar the two got stuck in and quickly realized they had stumbled onto something special.

After this initial round of writing and recording sessions at the farm, the two decamped back to Toronto where they roped in first-call bassist Ben Whitely (The Weather Station, Basia Bulat, Julia Jacklin) and percussionist extraordinaire Lyle Molzan (Kathleen Edwards, Corb Lund), and continued tweaking and refining their sound during weekly sessions at All Day Coconut. The two added a new layer of depth to the proceedings, with Whitely's tasteful, earthy bass playing providing a warm anchor to the music, and Molzan largely eschewing a standard drumkit in favour of triangles, congas, and other sundry percussive items.

Finally, MOONRIIVR returned to the farm to pull the whole thing together. They set up shop in the garage, placing guitar amplifiers in cars and opening and closing the car doors to adjust sound leakage during recording. The 30 degree July heat made it necessary to keep the garage doors open, letting the natural ambient sounds of their rural environs seep into the background of the songs. Gardiner in particular delighted in this refreshing change from the status quo, re-setting himself with this open-ended, at times magical creative process, which he says “really opened up a whole new musical world to me that I had heard in the music I loved.”

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