Track These Down: Her Harbour, Das Mörtal, & The Pack A.D.

December 12, 2016 in features
Her Harbour; Photo Credit: Jamie Kronick

Her Harbour; Photo Credit: Jamie Kronick

Her Harbour – “Hewing Crowns”

Ottawa, Ontario-based singer-songwriter Gabrielle Giguère crafts dream-folk and baroque-pop compositions that have an ephemeral sonic touch, but leave a deep impression, lyrically and emotionally.  Giguère released her hazy to stark debut album Winter’s Ghosts in 2013.

Since that time, the specter of death has stalked Giguère and she has channeled her loss and torment on her upcoming second album, Go Gently Into the Night, which arrives February 3rd on E-Tron Records.  Giguère wrote and produced the album in Ottawa and recorded it with Dave Draves at Little Bullhorn Studio.

Lead single and album opener “Hewing Crowns” is a poignant and powerful portrait of her hidden anguish, wrapped in a haunting shroud of subdued, hesitant piano notes, the occasional shivering whisper of strings, and Giguère’s potently beseeching, yet still restrained vocals.

“Hewing Crowns” is stunning in its overt aural stillness, yet covert emotional turmoil, filled with empty sonic space, weighted with disquieting silent moments that are quietly magnified by Giguère’s dwelling, bereft, drawn out vocal delivery.  She delicately captures the isolating and crushing force of the fragile inner psyche in times of trauma.

The accompanying video is made up of found footage, edited by Mike Dubue, taken from the spooky and mysterious short film Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken.

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Das Mörtal – “Risking My Life” feat. Ghost Twin

Previously known as Ekektro-boy, the Montréal, Québec-located, techno/synthwave artist Cristóbal Cortes now goes by the names of his music projects, Das Mörtal and Buttonsinker.  The latter is Cortes’ take on ambient and minimalistic sounds, while with Das Mörtal he showcases his more energetic, electronic and New Wave side.

Cortes has been making music as Das Mörtal through the 2000s, offering his Re:Mix Collection, 2 EPs, and 4 singles at his Bandcamp site.  His latest electronic music composition, “Risking My Life”, out via Lisbon Lux Records, features the dark synthpop duo Ghost Twin from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Karen Asmundson, the vocalist and guitarist of Ghost Twin, is a strong vocal presence on “Risking My Life”, sweeping through the tune with her sweet, but powerful vocals.  She brings drama to the fore with her operatic, goth vocal delivery amid the glittery electronic shards and gritty, Motorik pace.

The accompanying video, which was filmed on the streets of Philadelphia by Joseph B. Carlin, is like an outtake from a John Carpenter horror movie where the victim is being chased by a nameless, shapeless pursuer.  Near the end of the video the protagonist is illuminated in bright white light – Is she being abducted by aliens à la The X-Files?  Is she being caught by the police?  Is she being taken by a church who wants to save her soul (There are a couple of flashes of a building with crosses on its top)?  Or is she starting a new dance craze?  The herky-jerky robot, perhaps?  The mystery continues…

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The Pack A.D. – “Yes I Know”

Vancouver-based garage rock duo The Pack A.D. unleashed its rousing sixth album, Positive Thinking, in mid-November via Cadence Music.  Becky Black (vocals, guitar) and Maya Miller (drums) create quite the uproarious racket with only their stripped down instrumental set, bringing to mind other powerful, but tuneful two-pieces like The White Stripes, The Kills, and Blood Red Shoes.

The Pack A.D.’s previous albums were released on venerable Canadian labels Mint Records and Nettwerk.  Black and Miller mix punk, blues, and pop into their alternative rock base, creating rawly energetic and melodic tunes to hum along to.  Latest record Positive Thinking was recorded and mixed at Raincity Recorders and produced by Jesse Gander (White Lung, Bison, Japandroids).

Blues-rock-steeped lead single “Yes I Know” jump-starts the heart (and feet) with a strict, marching drums beat and dirty buzz of guitar distortion.  Black’s exhortations reverberate through Miller’s emphatic drumkit hits and cymbals smash.  The video for “Yes I Know” is reminiscent of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s vid for “Talk About The Blues”, which featured actress Winona Ryder as a stand-in for Spencer.  Black mimics some of Ryder’s sharply angular moves, while blasting through her words like Spencer.

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By Jen Dan

Jen Dan is a music writer based in New Jersey, USA who has a thing for Canadian music – well, as long as it aurally intrigues her… Over the years she has written countless music reviews and news pieces and interviewed a multitude of bands and singers – and even an actor here and there.

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