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 addiction 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 purveyors of all things psych and trippy, 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 Bodiesand 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.
Earlier this year, I wrote about “Avoidance,” a woozy and uneasy ripper full of guilt and recriminations delivered with a breakneck freneticism centered around a persistent synth-driven groove. And while sounding a bit like 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.
Clocking in at just about two minutes, “Out of My Skull” is full of foreboding, uneasy menace centered around hypnotic, glistening synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming paired with Resnik’s anxious delivery. And as a result, the song evokes a frustrated, restless boredom — and it should feel familiar for most of us, stuck at home with nothing to do, nowhere to really go and no one to see.
Directed by the band’s Evan Resnik, the accompanying video is shot in a brooding and cinematic black and white, and interestingly, it conveys both menace and playfulness simultaneously.
“’Out of my Skull’ is dark but it’s lively. I shot in black and white to lend a bit of a classic, noir vibe to the video, which also helped bring out some of my innate 90s influence,” the band’s Evan Resnik says in press notes.
“The lyrics loosely reference Miles Davis and a few moments from his life: his hiatus from 1975-80, a shooting in 1969, being assaulted by a cop outside Birdland in 1959. I watched a lot of music documentaries in early 2020 when we began writing this record. Miles was a mysterious and brooding artist, and that initial inspiration helped me get into that mindset during songwriting and throughout the video production. The video is intimate but detached, with close-up faces in contrasting, unreal environments. We’re in your face, but we’re not really there.
“We had a lot of fun shooting, and I think that comes through in the video and adds a bit of levity.”