Calgary-based post-punk outfit Sunglaciers can trace its origins back to 2017 as a collaboration between its founding — and core — members: multi-instrumentalist Matthieu Blanchard and lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Evan Resnik. When they started the project, Blanchard had completed his studies in medicine, working in family medicine and addition and Resnik had returned from a trip hitchhiking through France. Since the project’s formation, the Calgary-based act has released a couple of EPs and their full-length debut, 2019’s Foreign Bodies, which saw them crafting a sound that blurred the lines between dazzling indie rock melodicism and icy, post-punk experimentation, centered around a maximalist approach.
During that same five year period, the members of the Canadian post-punk outfit have seen a steadily rising profile, as they’ve shared stages with the likes of JOVM mainstays Preoccupations, Omni and Daniel Romano while topping the charts of college radio stations across Western Canada. Understandably, when the pandemic put their touring plans on a then-indefinite pause, the band quickly shifted their focus to writing material, dedicating 40-plus hour weeks to music during the early months of 2020.
Those writing sessions wound up becoming the Calgary-based outfit’s sophomore album Subterranea, slated for a March 25, 2022 release through Montreal-based psychedelic purveyors Mothland. Continuing an ongoing collaboration with Chad VanGaalen, who co-produced the album, Subterranea reportedly sees the band eschewing the maximalist approach of their previous releases and crafting material with a decided laser focus. The end result is a frenetic, breakneck album of material with songs that never overstay their welcome. “We tried to write vertically instead of horizontally,” Sunglaciers’ Matthieu Blanchard explains. “Our last album Foreign Bodies and the EPs that came before it had lots of long songs with different parts drifting back and forth. For this album, we decided to strip our songs down to two or three minutes with only a few ideas in each of them.”
“The bulk of this album came together during the pandemic and the changing of gears that we had to do,” Sunglaciers’ Evan Resnik says. “I was out of work and Mathieu was working half as much as usual, so we had lots of time on our hands. We flipped a switch and started playing music everyday. It’s a good indicator of how we were writing at the time while we wrapped our heads around some new gear and saw what came out of it. Essentially, we took all of our favourite musical tendencies and put them together. We were listening to a lot of McCartney II at the time and loved how eclectic it was, which led to us mirroring that vibe.”
With an extended timeframe to write and record, the album, which was recorded at Bruce Crews’ voiceover studio On Air Studios allowed the members the opportunity to learn skills in engineering and for the opportunity to swap the instruments that each member typically played, a strategy that was employed during the writing and recording of Portishead‘s Third and David Bowie‘s “Boys Keep Swinging.” The album also features contributions from the aforementioned Chad VanGaalen, Hermitess‘ Jennifer Crighton and Roman66′s Louis Cza The Black Greek God. The end result may arguably be Sunglaciers most urgent and cohesive batch of material, an effort that draws from the likes of Deerhunter, Total Control, and BEAK> among others,.
Subterranea‘s latest single is “Avoidance,” a woozy and uneasy ripper full of guilt and recrimination delivered with a breakneck freneticism and featuring a nagging and persistent synth line-driven groove, angular guitar attack, driving four-on-the-four, dryly delivered vocals and screams by Louis Cza. Sounding a bit like JOVM mainstays Plague Vendor and Atsuko Chiba, “Avoidance” lyrically touches upon themes of alienation, abandonment and guilt in a way that should feel familiar to most of us during this unusual moment of our lives.
Directed by the band’s Evan Resnik and Ryan Kostel, the video is a paranoid and uneasy fever dream in which the video’s protagonist is tormented by figures that he thinks are his friends — but prove to be in his own head.
“The video depicts a nightmare scenario with the protagonist in a panic as he is tormented by figures he thought were his friends, ultimately coming face-to-face with himself,” Sunglaciers’ Evan Resnik explains. “The fogged-out rooms, varied lighting, and overlaid shots pull the viewer inside this dreamscape and accentuate the anxiety and trepidation we explore in the song.”
“When filming ‘Avoidance’ I really wanted to mimic the anxious, unsettled mind,” Ryan Kostel adds. “Constantly shifting angles, I used long fluid shots and shifts in time to create an unbalanced sensation. Rapid fluctuations of light and color layered over kinetic and sometimes violent imagery help to convey the subject’s mental unease.”