New music from Ocean Charter of Values coming this month via Patient Records.
Patient Records will be releasing new albums during this month’s Quality Block Party (1.2) in Saint John with new music on the way from Counting On Downstairs, Gaudeamus and Ocean Charter of Values.
In advance of the label’s planned release day of August 11, Grid City Magazine caught up with Ocean Charter of Value’s Nick Laugher to learn more about the project’s constant evolution and his new album, Hack The Planet.
“When I started Ocean Charter of Values I was playing more folky/indie-rock stuff with a friend of mine on the south shore,” said Laugher, “but my first release as OCOV was a drone/ambient record for a New York label called Lily Tapes and Discs, so right off the bat I had already been mixing the two. It’s definitely taken on more of a life of its own than I could have ever imagined, and I think that comes down to both my inability to stick to one thing and also the friends and players I collaborate with.”
Laugher has remained at the helm of Ocean Charter of Values from the beginning and thrives on change and experimentation, welcoming new collaborators and happily following new inspirational paths and influences with fearless abandon.
“Ocean Charter of Values when it’s a solo affair is much different than Ocean Charter of Values as a two piece, which is different than Ocean Charter of Values as a three piece,” he said. “And there are even different configurations of the two and three piece versions of the band, and they all kind of inform each other.
“What I do with this project is so varied, it’s hard to explain to people what it’s going to sound like if they book me or come out to a show. When it all comes down to it, it’s definitely a solo project, but it takes on the personality and flavour of who I collaborate with. I’m nothing if not a sponge.”
For his Patient Records debut, Laugher has complied an extensive mix of recordings that reflect his wide-ranging sonic esthetic. Hack The Planet is a great introduction to Ocean Charter of Values’ current form(s).
“Honestly, this album has been in the works in some capacity since around December, during the time I spent six months in the Netherlands,” said Laugher. “I had been going through one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve had thus far in my life. I hadn’t brought a guitar with me to Europe, so a lot of what I was doing to try and stay levelled out and stable was working on a lot of electronic stuff. I especially got re-immersed in video game music for a bit because I was also playing a ton of old SNES and NES games to pass the time. I was kind of just there hanging out while my partner Molly went to school. As a result, there are a lot of video game references on this album, both figurative and literal.”
Hack The Planet was originally conceived as a project called Liminal Space. Laugher announced the album upon his return to Canada last February and planned to release it as a limited edition cassette before the project suffered a series of unavoidable setbacks.
“I was originally going to call it Liminal Space,” said Laugher, “but as is usually the way with depression, I just didn’t have the energy or follow through to actually finish anything. I even went so far as announcing the release and I just was never able to get it done. And then my computer totally died, and I lost pretty much all of the stuff I was working on, save for a few rough mixes of stuff that I had sent other people.”
While in Fredericton last spring for a performance at Flourish, Laugher reached out to Patient Records’ Eric Hill with an invitation to join an ensemble he was putting together for his drone/poetry performance planned as part of the festival. Although Hill was unable to perform at the show, he expressed interest in releasing some new music from Ocean Charter of Values.
This offer was just the inspiration Laugher needed to revisit several ideas he had in mind for his next album, although he quickly faced many of the same challenges that helped put a stop to things a few months earlier.
“I kind of picked up where I left off in a lot of ways with the stuff I was working on and started again,” said Laugher. “At one point I thought it would be a full band record with acoustic stuff and one or two ambient pieces, and at one point I thought it would be all poetry. It was extremely hard to figure out what all of this stuff I had recorded wanted to be. Because I had, ostensibly, like 20 disparate ‘things’ I had worked on that I could have potentially developed to release, but I just had no idea where to go with things.”
In an attempt to find some footing and begin compiling tracks for the album, Laugher reached out to Year of Glad’s AP Bergeron, sending him a handful of tracks to explore. The two have been collaborating on musical projects for well over a decade.
“I knew it would be right up his alley,” said Laugher. “The stuff he sent me back honestly had me speechless and within like five minutes of listening to what he’d done, I had the idea for the album planned out completely in my head, and it took me about two or three days to kind of mix everything, and make it all fit together.
“I don’t think I could have finished this record without AP, in all honesty. His contributions totally framed how this record came together, and what it was about for me and I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider this a co-written effort in that way.”
In total, Hack The Planet is made up of sessions dating back as far as 2015, with recordings done in Halifax, Fredericton and the Netherlands.
“Basically, this record was a bunch of disparate stuff I was working on that all just fell into place together within the span of two or three days. It just all immediately became clear and everything locked into place. It’s actually kind of spooky.”
Unfortunately, Ocean Charter Of Values will be absent from Patient Records’ upcoming release show on August 11. However, fall performances are expected to be announced soon. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Patient Records Release Show at Quality Block Party 1.2 | Shrimp Ring+Denmother+Property//+Gaudemas+Counting On Downstairs | August 11 | Port City Royal, Saint John | View Event