This week we look at the latest releases from Counting On Downstairs, Stellaleona and Menoncle Jason.
Counting On Downstairs – Takes
Counting on Downstairs is a project by Fredericton musician Eric Hill. Takes is a collection of rehearsal outtakes from two recent performances – the 2019 FUZEfest (August) and a November 16 performance at The Tipsy Muse Cafe with the Halifax-based improvisation ensemble New Hermitage.
In the liner notes that accompany this three track EP, Hill explains a bit about the creation of both pieces. There are two takes of a composition entitled BasinC, created specifically with the influence of minimalist composers William Basinski and Terry Riley in mind. The composition is built around minor shifts in tone and timbre with no intentional melodic structure. This lack of traditional form provides Hill with limitless room to introduce subtle contrasts and occasionally unexpected accents.
The second composition, The Sleep Show, was performed entirely on an iPhone using mediation and sleep apps. The resulting performance is a mix of nature sounds, white noise and calming narrated instruction stitched together to form a 20 minute piece that effectively reveals an unexpected degree of chaos hidden within these modern means of relaxation. Brilliant.
Stellaleona – Valerian Ruthless EP
Stellaleona is one of the most exciting musicians making electronic music in New Brunswick today. Each of their compositions embody a unique form and phrasing structure that are as unusual as they are strangely familiar.
Drenched in a wash of synth-generated melodies that do more to surround the listener than provide any familiar stability, the four tracks that make up this release each possess a distinct uncertainty that work as a perfect fuel for any curious listener. Each track moves forward in a slow and calculated fashion, releasing time-delayed moments of clarity that serve to remind the listener that the unknown and the unusual are both safe and welcoming places to be.
These tracks are part of a larger project, Stellaleona’s debut album, that will be released in 2020.
Menoncle Jason – La Grosse Piastre
Moncton country artist Menoncle Jason (Jason LeBlanc) has crafted a sonic identity that takes bits of surf, swing, Yé-yé, and psychedelia wrapped tightly around a dominant classic country vibe. That sounds nuts, but it works. It works really well.
His latest release, La Grosse Piastre, finds LeBlanc again paired up with producer Mike Trask, who handled duties on LeBlanc’s last album. Trask’s proven ability to capture beautiful sounding recordings that embody a range of distinct and nostalgic audio genres adds a perfect compliment to LeBlanc’s genre-bending, Chiac-laden songwriting.
First and foremost, La Grosse Piastre is a fun record. It’s almost a perfect record. LeBlanc mixes the rural authority of Stompin’ Tom Connors with the hard-to-peg-down originality of Zappa or one of his devotees. With guest appearances from Christien Belliveau, Marie-Andrée Gaudet, Matt Hayes, Sébastien Michaud, Julie Aubé, Katrine Noël and Trask, this is a must hear album that sadly, risks being overlooked in the Best Of lists of 2019 (or 2020) simply because of when it was released. Seek it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Send us your Music!
If you are a New Brunswick artist or group, have new music on the way and would like to be considered for a future edition of Midweek Music Mix, send us the details at gridcitymagazine(at)gmail.com