Published Oct 24, 2014The world wasn't quite ready for Slim Twig's A Hound at the Hem when it surfaced in 2012. The psychedelic art-rock crooner born as Max Turnbull had created the album partially to fulfill a contract with his label at the time, but he mostly made it with the desire for it to be his Pet Sounds. Unfortunately, it made Paper Bag unsure, so they refused to release it. According to Turnbull, they felt it was too far out there, but, after much searching and frustration, it did eventually see a limited vinyl release thanks to a collaboration with the modest, progressive Pleasence Records. Nevertheless, the experience left Twig with a bad taste in his mouth.
Turnbull had created his most ambitious album. With a concept taking inspiration from Vladimir Nabokov's tragicomedy hebephilia novel Lolita and the work of French composers Jean-Claude Vannier and Serge Gainsbourg on Histoire de Melody Nelson, itself based on the Lolita story, A Hound at the Hem was a brilliant neo-psychedelic baroque pop opus — one for the ages. It should have been the career-defining moment that Twig envisioned, but Canada dropped the ball, failing to recognize the genius in its own backyard.
Thankfully, the New York-based DFA Records scooped up Toronto's rebound, and posterized the city with a slam dunk re-issue. Finally, A Hound at the Hem has the chance to gain the fervent cult following deserving of its hypnotizing layers of analog bass, fuzz bomb riffs, pensive organs, soaring strings, nostalgic harpsichords and a creepy lyrics. Canada has a long history of noticing its greatness once it is reflected back to itself by America, so it may finally be ready for this. (DFA)