Rating: 4 stars out of 5
crashride are an emerging Montreal-based electronic music duo consisting of composer and sound designer Jean-Sébastien Côté and composer and guitarist François Therriault. Together they blend textural electronic music with wide-scoping elements of Tangerine Dream-style New Age, nuanced dream-pop and prog-rock and jazz-inspired guitar for a progressively experimental sound that recalls Massive Attack, Air and Yes. Their self-titled debut album was released digitally via their Bandcamp page late last year with a physical release due for official release on January 22 via Note Musik. The album’s icy textures and cool cinematic soundscapes should provide the perfect chilled out soundtrack to your winter no matter what climate you call home.
The album opens with a short ambient introduction titled, “Two To Three” complete with a bubbling synth pattern and an ascending melody that helps set the tone for the rest of the songs to come.
“Father” quickly follows with a slow, waltz-like rhythm and washes of cosmic synths that evoke desolate images of being stranded on an icy, planet. The standout track boasts guest spots from guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie) and legendary bassist Tony Levin, who has recorded and toured with Peter Gabriel, King Crimson and John Lennon. Of course the duo’s music lends itself well to cinematic endeavors and the video for standout track,
“Half Duplex” with its towering skyscrapers and fast-paced city scenes stands out with a clicking, Motorik rhythm and several extended prog-rock inspired guitar solos. Led by pretty piano, standout track “Maniguruma” shimmers with iridescent synths and soaring EBow guitar as guest vocalist Frédérike Bédard and violinist Jean-Philippe Goulet imbue a pretty, cinematic haze to the track that rivals only Sigur Ros in the beauty department. The oceanic ebb and flow of “Venice” is highlighted by jazzy guitar runs, strange synth sounds and a head-nodding beat.
“Ostankino” opens with a dreamy interlude of stormy stair-stepping piano and guest guitarist Dave Randall’s (Slovo, Dido) acoustic guitars before giving way to a stuttering rhythm and highly melodic guitar lines that contrast nicely with the brooding bass-led undercurrent. Next, the duo puts their own spin on Alain Morisod’s “Neige” and their version stands out with beautifully sung French lyrics from Bédard backed by a propulsive beat, cascading guitars and glassy synths for an 80’s-inspired synth-pop and trip-hop hybrid.
With three MacBooks and the blinking lights of their keyboards as the only light source, a live performance video was filmed - and can be viewed via the band’s Youtube page - for the song, “Different 8”, which meshes perfectly with the glimmering atmosphere and swaying melodies created by EBow and the Chapman stick on the track.
Sung in English, “Art Of Choice” combines soaring strings and a glitchy beat with an extended piano outro for a passionate 80’s prog-pop ballad reminiscent of Peter Gabriel.
The haunting yet beautiful “Ohne Worte” builds tension before releasing with squealing keyboard freakouts and features a silky string arrangement ready-made for a movie soundtrack. On the other hand, the more pop-leaning track “Hold Me Tight” offers up lush layers of psychedelic vocal melodies that swirl and swoon skyward, recalling the classic rock-indebted indie rockers and fellow Canadians, The Besnard Lakes. The twelve-track album closes out with the blooming kaleidoscope of synths and guitars of the aptly-titled “Feel”.
With their promising self-titled debut album, Canadian electronic music duo crashride have crafted an innovative brand of electronica that feels both freshly modern and warmly nostalgic for a time when electronic music was first being born; capturing the wide-eyed wonder and sense of experimental freedom of that era. Honestly, it would be enough if crashride was just a studio project but the duo plans to tour and that is just icing on the cake.