Published May 29, 2020As artistic mediums have changed and mutated, so has our curiosity expanded and indulged in the unimaginable and the uninhibited. Royal Canoe have embraced this with fervour, brazenly experimenting with and pushing boundaries that reimagine what sound can do.
Their new EP, Glacial, was recorded live and outdoors at the Forks in Winnipeg at the end of January. While it might seem ridiculous to play an outdoor show in the dead of winter, what made the performance and subsequent album momentous was the fact that all of the instruments and triggers were carved from blocks of ice pulled from Fort Whyte — pitched "ice-struments", an ice horn, ice drums and percussion, an ice sample kit/light machine — with the help of Sputnik Architecture and Luca Roncoroni, the creative director at the Ice Hotel in Sweden.
The five-track EP is a dreamscape of beautiful hollows created by ice xylophones, a kick drum that plays against ice, keyboard triggers that are all recorded sounds played on ice, all creating and contributing to the distinctive sounds and textures Royal Canoe embodies. Each track is built with an incredible amount of depth, from the mimic of running water and the ominous percussive interlude on "What's Left in the River" to the stripped down, moving version of "Don't."
Ambitious and beautifully executed, Glacial feels less about performance and more a means of turning the familiar on its head. (Paper Bag)