Formed back in 2016, Hamilton, Ontario-based dreamgaze outfit Basement Revolver — currently, Nimal Agalawatte (bass, keys), Chrisy Hurn (vocals, guitar), Jonathan Malström (guitar) and Levi Kertesz (drums) — can trace their origins back quite a bit earlier, to the longtime friendship between Hurn-Morrison and Agalawatte.
The band hit the ground running with the 2016 release of breakout single “Johnny Pt. 2,” which led to the band signing to British label Fear of Missing Out and later, Canadian label Sonic Unyon Records. The Canadian dreamgazers closed out that year with their self-titled EP. Over the next couple of years, Basement Revolver were remarkably prolific with the release of 2017’s Agatha EP, 2018’s full-length debut Heavy Eyes and 2019’s Wax and Digital EP. The band supported their recorded output with touring across Ontario, the States, the UK, and Germany.
2020 was a tumultuous year for much of the world — and unsurprisingly, it was tumultuous year for the Canadian quartet: They had written and recorded a bunch of songs. They had gone through a lineup change in which one member left and was replaced by another. But because of the pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions, they couldn’t rehearse or record in the way they had been long accustomed. And of course touring was completely off the table for much of 2020 and 2021.
The gap between their work and being alone, naturally resulted in serious introspection for the members of the band — including a reconsideration of who and what the band was. According to the band’s Agalawatte, the band had planned on making their sophomore album last year. But they wound up waiting and working out what to do, eventually making changes to what they had written. “The world was shifting around us – and there was some global trauma – with that, we decided we wanted to fully express ourselves. So far we had kind of held off sharing political views, but we were realizing that our silence was actually just violence. We realized that to be who we are fully and authentically, we needed to share our voice.”
For the band’s members, they felt the need to share things in public, that they had long held private: Agalawatte came out. Hurn came out. According to Hurn-Morrison, the pair came out against what she describes as homophobic and transphobic environments, much like Redeemer University, a private Calvinist university, which has been the birthplace of countless local acts.
Back in 2020, Redeemer University announced a policy that would discipline students for any sexual behavior outside heterosexual marriage. “While we were in the studio, the CBC released an article about Redeemer University, and their homophobic and transphobic policies. I realized then and there, I had to come out. I had to share my experience with being bi,” Hurn-Morrison explains.
Basment Revolver’s sophomore album Embody is slated for a February 18, 2022 release through Sonic Unyon Records. Thematically, the album sees the band wrestling with questions of identity, sexuality, faith and mental illness in an explicit, honest, and self-aware fashion. Sonically, the album’s material reveals a much deeper sound paired with a crisper production. And while arguably being the most personal album of their growing catalog to date, the album’s material is rooted in hope and hopeful waiting — to physically be with your friends, to tour and to engage with the world with this newfound understanding of yourself and your place within the world.
Embody‘s fourth and latest single “Circles” is a slow-burning and expansive bit of shoegazy dream pop featuring swirling layers of shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, atmospheric synths, Hurn’s achingly plaintive vocals and a driving rhythm section. And while sonically bearing a resemblance to A Storm in Heaven era The Verve and The Sundays, “Circles” is a deeply personal song in which it’s narrator openly struggles in the aftermath of being raped, and — sadly — informed by Hurn-Morrison’s personal experiences.
According to Chrisy Hurn, the song captures the feeling of “trying to do everything in your power to get better, but there is just that one thing that it always comes back to — knowing that it is a slow and long journey.
“As much as it is about this heavy, shitty thing that happened, I feel resilient. I feel a little bit stronger every time I hear it — a little bit more like I can stop hiding parts of myself.” Of course, while being cathartic for the band’s Hurn, she has the hope that it will help listeners, who may be going through similar experiences.
The recently released video is split between symbolic imagery of Hurn struggling with depression and anxiety — and seemingly gathering the courage to perform such a devastatingly honest song with her bandmates. The video’s color palette capture the brooding and serious nature of the song.
Hamilton, ON indie/shoegaze group Basement Revolver are gearing up to release Embody, their forthcoming full-length album, on February 18th via Sonic Unyon Records. Having previously shared the singles “Skin,” “Transatlantic” and “Tunnel Vision,” Basement Revolver return today with “Circles.” An expansive and highly melodic piece of dream pop that grapples with the aftermath of being raped, stream “Circles” via your preferred platform now. Watch the accompanying visuals on YouTube.