by trevor elkin
“You said you’d see it through. Until it saw through you…”
Difference is sometimes what makes the difference. Add to that some cosmic synchronicity and you’ve got the makings of something really special.
Vancouver’s Summering began as a favour: the story goes that five musicians (all involved in other bands at the time) did a solid for a friend who needed a support act for a one-off show. According to later interviews the reaction to that first gig, a back yard rent money party in downtown east end Vancouver was amazing. Despite this delicate nascence, Summering carried on and have become a band that embraces the tension of its diverse influences.
It’s a joy to listen to a group who clearly puts their differences positively to work. Folk, punk, metal and electronica all play an equal part in shaping their sound. Take, for example, Paul Stewart’s introspective, vulnerably earnest voice. Its alt-folk flame flickers, shining abstract beams into the darker, tumultuous waves of feedback and saturated guitar laid down by Mathew Durie and Mohammad Sharar. Zach Treble, whose other projects include the deep techno/house beats of 1800HaightStreet, provides a deft rhythmic framework for Ryan Bekolay’s rumbling, thick bass lines. Our ears, hearts and souls succumb to this perfect storm, because it’s familiar, yet like nothing else we know and everything we love.
“You always cover the receiver with your hand, why don’t you want them to listen, why don’t you want them to understand?”
Like a resting heartbeat, ‘In Linear’ begins with stark, tense repetition and hints at the immediacy of what will follow. Gradually building in volume and complexity that boxes us in. Layer on layer, shroud upon shroud, crashing cymbals and screaming guitar finally explode into a white-out. And that’s just track one. It’s at this point the enormity of this band’s mission and ability to deliver it hits you. In an instant you are connected, plugged into Summering’s electrified spaces, its heartfelt words pushing us ever forward. ‘Careful Creators’ epitomises this intent and purpose. They are the careful creators of our reactions, whether we love what they do or hate it – there is no room for half measures. Summering are in this all the way. The title track and the descending, ambient drone of ‘x’ which follows couldn’t be more different in style. Like day and night, there is common ground in the twilight space between. ‘Summering’ is perhaps the only track that courts familiarity, with its steady, downbeat pace and story of failed heroism it wouldn’t be out of place on Trials of Van Occupanther.
“Under someone else’s concrete plan, you’re not even a name or the print of your own hand. You become so dependent.”
‘Concrete Plans’ fades in with a sample taken from the Voyager recordings of Jupiter, like gigantic shifting and spinning magnetic plates. Apt symbolism for the manipulation of society through faceless, hidden forces. Unlike Muse though, Summering turn a conspiracy into a story that is relevant, personal and, eerily, somewhat more believable. Like a rising tidal wave, this is not an album to let wash over you. It needs attention, respect and your emotional co-operation. With the shortest track just shy of five minutes, Summering are all about constructing an experience with the listener. An experience combining the chaotic highs of howling tremelo guitars and powerful, soaring chords with the crashing low of ambient bleakness. The pivot point, bringing balance to this otherwise bipolar mix, is the wholesome, utterly listenable timbre of Stewart’s vocals.
Invest some time in ‘Summering’ and we hope you’ll agree, this is one of the most accomplished debut albums this year. Listen (loud), below.
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