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LISTEN: New Memoryhouse Album
The Quietus , February 21st, 2012 06:23

Listen to an exclusive stream of Memoryhouse's upcoming debut album for Sub Pop, The Slideshow Effect, and read the band talking through the album track-by-track

Memoryhouse release their debut album The Slideshow Effect on 27th February through Sub Pop. The Ontario duo of Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion's first full-length arrives in the wake of last year's The Years EP, also released through Sub Pop.

In advance of its release we're pleased to be able to offer a full stream of the album, via WE7 - listen to The Slideshow Effect in full below. And further down the page, read the band's full track-by-track explanation of the album.


Evan Abeele: So here it is, at long last, our debut album. Now, I don’t want to get too philosophical here, but since I’ve been afforded this opportunity to discuss our album in relatively plain-text, and unfiltered (for the most part), I’ll try to use use this space as effectively as I can without spoiling things for everyone.

First off, our group is called Memoryhouse, and if you are able to reconcile your feelings with that, then half the battle is already won. It’s not what you think, really. Or it could actually be exactly what you think, but it’s most likely a weird combination of what you think, and what you read on your neighbor’s blog, which gets sporadically updated in-between one of his signature crying spells.

My interpretation of 'Memoryhouse', and indeed the characteristic I believe it shares with German composer Max Richter’s seminal classical work which we we were granted the rights to via a police auction in Ludwigshafen, is the idea that one must reconcile with their past in order to move forward. We all have a 'memoryhouse' which we’ve populated with any combination of childhood sores, first kisses, Billy Joel records, and whatever atrocities you’ve encountered throughout your life.

The point I’m trying to make is that Memoryhouse, the band, the classical album, and that diaphanous, serrated thing inside you, pushing you to the edge of tears without a moment’s hesitation, is really all about identity. On our debut album, The Slideshow Effect, our primary focus was identity. We wanted to show listeners who we are in a manner that perhaps those familiar with us are unaccustomed to. There is a transparency in the composition, and presentation, that I knew we had to get across, at any cost. This album doesn’t have the cutesy bubble sounds or the (sigh) ethereal softness of our earlier work, because really, I felt it was time to wake-up. It is all too easy to hide these days; mysterious personas and alter-egos, cavernous reverb obscuring much of a given song's nuance. These are compelling sounds, but sooner or later it will reach its apotheosis. With our very first recording, The Years, I felt that we were running away from ourselves - as people often do when they are frightened or intimidated by uncertainty - and though this can provide a compelling soundtrack to your own much-needed escape from reality, sooner or later you’re going to have to confront yourself, and start the re-building process (Memoryhouse 2: Electric Boogaloo).

So that’s my prologue, if you decided to stick around, thank you! You must be super boring! It’s ok though, I’ll just write “sex” a whole bunch so that this spiel can get its due pay-off. Sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex sex.

'Little Expressionless Animals'

Evan: I knew I wanted this to be the first track. Even before the album really started to take shape, I knew that the album had to begin in this exact manner. I had wanted to create a stark and vulnerable atmosphere (hence the a capella intro) before launching into that deep, stuttering drum-pattern.

There are a few ways to read this song, but I think the most compelling is really the notion that it is a running-commentary on the state of our band unfolding in real time; “I can feel this space becoming what it never was” is sung as the foundation of so many early Memoryhouse songs shifts into a whole new world (a world where Memoryhouse can afford a drum kit, I call it Earth 2: The Drum World). Denise completes the transformation with “I won’t follow you back home”. “Is chillwave dead?” ponders the 42-year old man in brightly coloured cigarette-leg jeans.

Denise: I think this is my favourite song on the album because of how well it evokes a very specific kind of imagery. It's that song at the climax of a Christopher Nolan film when it's raining and Batman and Leonardo DiCaprio are fighting in a dream-warp universe at the end of the world.

'The Kids Were Wrong'

Evan: Oh man, we have been performing this song for years. Like, since our very first show. It is the second most-performed Memoryhouse song next to 'Lately'. It was always funny to see people comment on how our performances, especially in the early days, were so down-tempo and generally unvaried when we had this 151 BPM skiffle in our arsenal. I think it goes to show you how easy it is for people to become very committed to the idea of a band without bothering to dig a little deeper. Needless to say, the kids were wrong (a-cha-cha-cha-cha!).

Denise: This song has been around for a long time. As Evan mentioned, we have been performing this song since the beginning. We were actually performing it even before the lyrics were completed, so the chorus for the first few months of touring it was just "da da da da da da..."

'All Our Wonder'

Evan: I wanted this song to be our jazz standard of the album. Like 'God Bless the Child'. I really loved that song. I had wanted to evoke that feeling and that atmosphere without really turning people off with the idea that we were actively trying to write a jazz standard. It’s there though! I love the drum solo. Brilliance. On the whole I felt this was well paced, with a good payoff at the end.

Denise: This is one of our Fleetwood Mac songs.

'Punctum'

Evan: I think that this is the band’s favourite song on the album. It feels very fresh and vital for us. I knew the lap-steel would test some people, but it’s really quite lovely. How silly would that phrase sound played on a synthesizer? Right, very silly. Needed the lap-steel.

Denise: This song is particularly special to me because of how involved I became with the lyrics. It felt very exposed and genuine, which I think also comes across in the dryness of the vocals.

'Heirloom'

Evan: This was the first song we wrote for the album, from way back. It was an important song for us because it really shaped the direction of our music, and in general, the sound that we would move towards on our LP.

Denise: Can we survive, without measured time?

'Bonfire'

Evan: This is another early one, but again, another song that really gave us a direction to strive forward. Everyone really hated me during the recording of this because I kept hamming it up on the piano, intentionally playing really schmaltzy phrases. Unfortunately, none of that ended up on the final version, but if you own an upscale Thai restaurant and would like to license that recording to play in your restroom facilities, please get in touch.

Denise: I'm glad we could give this song another life by carrying it over to this record. It definitely has a more solemn tone than before.

'Pale Blue'

Evan: We played this song live for a little over a year before we really sat down and worked out the right proper arrangement for it. I think the first time we played it was for a taped session with YoursTruly. I felt the song always had a bit of a Portishead vibe. The string arrangement here is my favorite.

Denise: Also love the strings.

'Walk With Me'

Evan: This is another song that we have a lot of affection for. I think it’s a nice palette cleansing song to be paired with the soft intensity of 'Pale Blue'. Teens in love! The drums on this track are quite fantastic as well.

Denise: We wrote the final lyrics to this song on the root of my apartment at sundown. City scapes often make me think of nature.

'Kinds of Light'

Evan: I really struggled to write this. I had been writing it for nearly a year and hadn’t made much progress. I had a vague idea of how it’s supposed to come together, but it really didn’t take shape until we brought it in the studio and worked it out there. I love when Denise sings in her lower register, it’s very haunting. I think this is my favorite vocal performance on the album.

Denise: This song felt like a different direction for us. It was a song that came together late in the game, especially the second half of the track. Another one of my favourites.

'Old Haunts'

Evan: Ah, the last song. Everything on the album was very deliberately paced and sequenced. 'Little Expressionless Animals' couldn’t go anywhere but track 1, 'Old Haunts' couldn’t go anywhere other than track 10. I think this deliberateness gave the album a greater sense of purpose, or at least, I hope it did. I actually kept the ending to myself; no one knew how it would sound until we recorded it. It was satisfying doing that kind of bombastic ending. The drums again, are so beautiful on this song. I guess the one interesting thing of note about the recording is that we actually waited an extra beat before introducing the loud portion, and it was completely by accident. However, I think it comes across as deliberate because it really seems that the album is ending on that faint guitar oscillation before…boom. It’s enough, it’s enough. The placeholder for that phrase was “That’ll do pig”, which is certainly one way to end a debut album.

Denise: There was a lot of tension around this song in the studio because it was one of the last songs we had to complete. I think that emotional stress really came across in my vocals here, which makes the song extra dark. Like 'Little Expressionless Animals', its very cinematic. When I listen to it, I always imagine some kind of hopeless Film Noir murder taking place.

Memoryhouse tour the UK and Ireland in March. Tour dates are as follows:

MARCH
23rd - Glasgow, School Of Art
24th - Dublin, Whelan's
26th - Manchester, Deaf Institute
27th - Bristol, Louisiana
28th - London, Cargo

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