Supercrawl Presents Wintersleep at New Vision

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Supercrawl Presents Wintersleep in performance March 22, 2019 at Hamilton’s New Vision United Church, in advance of their new album In the Land Of (out March 29, 2019 on Dine Alone Records). They'll be joined by special guests Caveboy.

Tickets (19+) are on sale now via Eventbrite.

“The average Canadian carries around with them in their head a vision of spaciousness.” So theorized Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, describing a so-called ‘Canadian sound.’ For Schafer and many others, it was a sound defined by space, by the land and our distance from and proximity to it. For Harry Freedman, it was “gaunt” and “lonely.” Elaine Keillor called it “immense, empty, mysterious, harsh, indifferent, producing a response of awe mingled with terror and an intense sense of spiritual loneliness.”

On Wintersleep’s seventh full-length record, In the Land Of, this geography is both real and imagined. It is understood that our surroundings are not, in fact, essential or concrete elements; they’re constructed in relation to us, the inhabitants. Our identities, too, are constructed in relation to the land. The land, both physical and figurative, changes, and so do we. Familiar land. Foreign land. Inhospitable land. Unceded land. Stolen land. Dead land.

This might be why In the Land Of doesn’t inhabit one terrain, but many. It might also be why none of these terrains feel comfortable. “I don’t really feel 100% at home anywhere,” says vocalist and guitarist Paul Murphy. “Over time, that’s something that weighs a lot on me, not feeling really connected to my environment.”

Like all Wintersleep records, In the Land Of encourages thought and introspection. The new record’s title is an incomplete thought, a blank that is filled in across the record with different places, words, and sounds. “A lot of the songs touch on this idea of being a stranger or feeling foreign in all the different landscapes in which the songs took place lyrically,” explains Murphy. “It all relates back to the land,” adds guitarist Tim D’Eon.

The record follows 2016’s The Great Detachment, which saw lead single “Amerika” spend 11 consecutive weeks atop Canada’s rock radio charts. In the Land Of was recorded between Bath, Ontario’s Bathouse Recording Studio and Toronto’s Revolution Recording, with Scottish producer and longtime collaborator Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian) back at the helm. The record’s cover features an image captured by photographer Richard Carey. It’s an underwater shot of garbage and debris floating just below the surface, with errant strands of lime-green seaweed stretching into the frame. Yet another fragment of ‘land:’ “It’s still a product of land-dwellers,” says drummer Loel Campbell of the image. “It’s a reference to our current failures as a planet, as a society.”

These themes are pressed across the record’s 10 tracks, beginning with the somber, misty waltz of “Surrender.” Tim D’Eon’s guitar, pushing through dark, rippling triplets that patiently ascend and descend, heralds a record that is in no rush: it is purposeful and spacious. Murphy’s voice enters the fray: “36 years young/Halfway to my tomb,” he intones. Steadily and surely, Campbell’s drums creep in with gentle snare and kick, along with Chris Bell’s bass. These elements coalesce, quiet at first before exploding in a magnificent, cinematic crescendo as Murphy howls, “I surrender to you!”

The second track, “Forest Fire,” is similar in its approach to love: Murphy describes a powerful natural phenomenon, all-consuming. “You were a forest fire burning effervescent through the night,” he sings over driving, Boxer-era National piano chording. The song finds a subject at the mercy of his surroundings. It’s a repositioning of humankind’s relationship with land—so often dictated by a capitalistic need for control and power—wherein we are not the controllers, but the controlled. “Not having control of something is not necessarily a bad feeling,” emphasizes Murphy. “It’s kind of liberating.”

Then arrives “Beneficiary,” a throbbing disco-noir romp that details the modern relationship between whiteness and genocide of Indigenous peoples. “Drive to work all day, try to sleep at night/Beneficiary of a genocide,” Murphy sings. The lyrics borrow from Australian writer Peter Carey, who in an interview last year asserted, “You wake up in the morning and you are the beneficiary of a genocide.” “As a Canadian, I feel a real connection to that sentiment,” says Murphy. “It really encapsulates the idea of someone historically removed from these atrocities but who nonetheless benefits, and has to come to terms with and find ways to acknowledge and take on a certain responsibility in making it right.”

The record’s multitudes, like the taut, punkish velocity of “Lighthouse” or the darkened indie pop hum of “Waves,” play counterbalance to the folksy, rollicking Doomsday-cheer of “Never Let You Go” and stomping, rosy guitar rocker “Into The Shape Of Your Heart.” “Terror,” with soaring, organ-backed chorus theatrics, was inspired by a British artist’s rendering of regions that were targeted by drone strikes—a maddening statement on imperialist violence and its attendant disregard for foreign land and lives.

The record closes on “Free Pour,” an almost-scrapped, melancholy but breezy journey through a birthday on “the shy side of 40.” “After a certain year, you don’t get birthdays anymore,” Murphy chuckles. “The joy gets taken away from them. I relate to that.” The lyrics were penned around Murphy’s 37th birthday, and detail “going out to celebrate your birthday by yourself, and thinking about the most miserable scenario in which that can happen.” He describes the song as “taking the piss out of myself,” but for all its comedic trappings (“Baby, I’m on the shy side of 40/Still writing riffs like nobody’s business except in my case it most certainly is/I’m a professional riff writer”), it still bears a profound truth. For Murphy, that’s “finding something liberating about passing these milestones; finding something that’s liberating about letting it all fall away.”

It’s the direct result of feeling like a stranger somewhere, of feeling alienation so intense it must be dissolved before it constricts. In the Land Of is about that alienation: from the self, from others, from the world around us. These are all lands we occupy, ones which we must know and explore and surrender ourselves to. Keillor’s “spiritual loneliness” was not, after all, a product purely of the self. It came from how we exist here; it came from the land.

With a fresh perspective on alternative dream-pop, Caveboy root themselves in the primal and build to multi-layered experiences. Influenced by similar childhoods, Caveboy is the culmination of the shared life experiences of its three members Michelle Bensimon (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synth), Isabelle Banos (Synth, Bass, Backing Vocals) and Lana Cooney (Drums, Backing Vocals). They revel in ideas of fearlessness, self­-sufficiency, the extraordinary, and that which is feral and cannot be tamed.

Their debut self-titled EP, released in the fall of 2015, charted among the National Top 25 on Earshot, and propelled the band onto the Canadian festival circuit including electrifying performances at Pride Toronto, Hillside, Rifflandia, and in their hometown, Osheaga. The band also turned heads by showcasing at festivals such as CMW, CMJ, SXSW, TIFF, and Pop Montreal.

In early 2017, the band performed at SOCAN & CIMA's Pre-Grammy Celebration of Canadian Excellence in Los Angeles, California, alongside Kaytranada and Donovan Woods. The music of the EP was placed in several television shows and films; with a number of tracks on Space's Killjoys and Wynonna Earp, as well as songs in FXX's You're The Worst and MTV's Awkward. Also, they had a B-side track from the EP "Color War" placed in the fourth season of Netflix's Orange Is The New Black. The band has opened for touring artists such as Ria Mae, Dear Rouge, Operators, Keys N Krates, Neon Dreams, Young Galaxy and more.

In May 2017, Caveboy placed first in the Recording Festival contest, landing them a two-week recording residency at the beautiful Grouse Lodge Studios (Michael Jackson, Muse) in the heart of Ireland, along with the help of renowned European engineers such as Cameron Craig (Adele, Annie Lennox). The rollout of this highly anticipated new music begins with the first single, "Raconteur," out now.

With a powerful live set not to be missed, Caveboy are the band you'll be talking about the next day.

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