words by Trev Elkin
photo by Sijia Ye
Among the rich harvest of releases this August is Comforter, a fully-formed debut by Montreal’s Bodywash that glows with the spectral purple hues of late summer sunshine while hinting at darker days to come.
Comforter is true to its name, made of familiar dream-pop and trip-hop components that fit together with ease. With close neighbours like Beach House and Slowdive, Bodywash turn their ideas over and over with an eerie combination of detailed, musical precision and a sense of falling, endlessly and deeply into the unknown. Standouts moments include the iridescent rhythms of ‘Twins’, the shattered, fuzzy nostalgia of ‘With Heat’ and ‘Eye to Eye’, an emotionally simmering San Junipero out-take.
Experimentation and diversity of ideas played significant parts in the two-year journey to complete Comforter, with the band expanding from the founding duo of vocalists Rosie Long Decter and Chris Steward, to include bassist Tom Gould and drummer, Ryan White who joined midway through the album’s recording process. “The album evolved as we were evolving as a band,” says Long Decter. While she adds, “you can hear us grow and change with each song”, those creative artefacts now seem embedded in the DNA of each track as idiosyncrasies and surprises that add something extraordinary.
Taken as a whole, Comforter is a mostly blissful fermata and exquisite feast of sound, with layer upon layer of contrasting synth, guitar and percussive textures held together by Long Decter’s and Steward’s harmonies. However, the band’s enigmatic airiness belies a shadow. As on closing track ‘Another Plane’, tucked away in the periphery of their songwriting are echoes of sadness from either the past or the future, or another reality entirely.
Despite the intense work and time that went into it, personally, Bodywash share little of themselves via Comforter. We were curious to know more about the process from the perspective of the memories that were made and the things that perhaps symbolised the key moments that they might preserve and look back on in the future: a time capsule.
Julia Holter – Ekstasis
Somewhere in the middle of university, I stopped loving music for a while, and this record is a big part of why I started loving it again. I was feeling very paralyzed – trying to move beyond the singer-songwriter style I’d always had but not really sure where to go next. Ekstasis, which I started listening to while we were writing and recording Comforter, sort of changed what I thought a song could be; Julia is so adept at blending pop techniques with experimental structures and decadent arrangements. This record helped me get out of my head and see music as a way of reaching other worlds – which is what “ekstasis” literally means, “to be or stand outside oneself.”
– Rosie Long Decter (RLD)
Various Artists – La Grande Parade (Vinyl LP)
A weird but wonderful compilation of experimental “pop” songs designed to accompany an exhibition of the same name at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, put together by curator Edy de Wilde in 1984. The exhibition itself offered a “panoramic view of post-1940 painting with artists like Miró, Picasso, Bacon, Rothko, Léger and Beckmann”. Each song on the compilation was inspired by a different work of art; with each musician given one day in the studio to perfect their musical vision. The result is something totally unique that demonstrates the juncture at which visual art and recorded music intersect. The highlight for me will always be “Les Enfants” – such a beautifully sad, simple song.
– Chris Steward (CS)
The O.C. – Seasons 1-4 Complete Box Set
The perfect teen soap with the perfect indie soundtrack. Like La Grande Parade, the O.C. also demonstrates the juncture at which visual art and recorded music intersect, but with much higher drama. We dream of someday playing The Bait Shop and then retiring in Newport Beach to take surf lessons with Sandy Cohen.
– RLD & CS
Susan Sontag – “The Artist as Exemplary Sufferer“
Sontag famously wrote that “For the modern consciousness, the artist (replacing the saint) is the exemplary sufferer. And among artists, the writer, the man of words, is the person to whom we look to be able best to express his suffering”. All Bodywash tracks tend to come from places of sadness. Making this record also definitely verged on the masochistic at times. I think it’s important to include something that encapsulates the glorification of suffering in art but also pray that the people of tomorrow don’t take our suffering too seriously.
Chris’ Grey Ikea Kivik Couch
So many of our friends, collaborators and family members have slept on this couch… no one specified the dimensions of the time capsule so we thought we’d sneak this one in here. No other object better signifies the last 5 years of the band’s existence. We have laughed and cried and spilt a lot of poutine on this couch. Bonus: this couch contains enough of our bodily matter that the boffins of the future should be able to clone us no problem.
– RLD & CS
Montréal’s Bodywash released their debut album of heavy dream pop, ‘Comforter’ on the 30th August through Luminelle. Feature by Rosie Long-Decter and Chris Steward, Bodywash’s front vocalists, guitarists and songwriters.