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elfin saddle deepens its compositional and conceptual agenda on devastates, the band's third full-length album and its most urgent, ornate and impassioned work to date. the montreal group, led by multi-instrumentalists emi honda and jordan mckenzie (who also share vocal duties), has always shown a profound engagement with issues of environmental sustainability and the emotional impact of economic/political ideologies that continually foreclose on the possibility of genuine, progressive renewal and redirection. the band's music-making - and the parallel art practice on display in honda and mckenzie's installation and video work - investigates the tensions between nature and technology on multiple levels. with devastates, this is explicit in the lyrical narrative of the album as a whole and implicit in the band's use of found and re-purposed objects to create its soundworld. the new album weds an operetta-style song cycle to an organic, junkshop aesthetic to great effect, forging a unique hybrid folk music that weaves honda's trilling vocals (often singing in japanese) and mckenzie's woodsy, unaffected baritone with threads of clattering steam-engine percussion, ukulele, accordion, glockenspiel and pump organ. the addition of kristina koropecki's cello alongside long-standing third member nathan gage (shapes & sizes) on upright bass allows for a doubly melodic/rhythmic low-end. recorded in a small abandoned chapel in rural quebec, devastates is intimate and humbly epic, anchored by a diy aesthetic and fuelled by the desire to say something both critical and hopeful about our common earthly trajectory.
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