Sans Solace – One Musician’s Coping Strategy

Category: music 229

a3606690863_10Dennis Goodwin releases music inspired by the season.

“Some things exist in life that are neither good or bad,” says Dennis Goodwin. “We just have to accept them and keep going.”

Goodwin is known to many as a member of The Olympic Symphonium and Grand Theft Bus, and for his work with Michael Feuerstack as a member of Snailhouse, but he is also a skilled and competent composer in his own right. Last week he made public a collection of compositions he wrote and recorded over four years ago, revealing a side of Goodwin’s musical exploration known to very few.

Sans Solace was conceived as a tribute to the inevitable – the long, cold winter that returns year after year. Blending many field recorded winter sounds with his more recognised talents as a craftsmen skilled in the fine art of melodic construction, Goodwin’s compositions embody all that is winter. The highs and the lows and those moments of hope and pure frustration that only winter can evoke.

“I received a grant from ArtsNB to create this conceptual, instrumental winter album combining field recordings and music,” said Goodwin. “I went out a lot by myself with my field recorder and recorded the city’s sound. That was the winter of 2010, I think. And then I became a hermit and wrote music to fit what I recorded.”

Comprised of seven tracks, Sans Solace is one musician’s interpretation of acceptance, endurance and creativity in a time of need. A coping strategy. But beyond simply venting his distaste for much of what the season brings, through his music Goodwin was able to capture some of the beauty we often overlook at this time of year. Fresh fallen snow, frost’s complex patterns on our kitchen windows, and the child-like excitement of treading through a drift of snow like an explorer, going where no one has gone before. Through this set of compositions, he’s captured much of what this season means to so many.

“The seasons influence our mood and our mood influences the music we listen to,” said Goodwin. “We’re all affected by the seasons differently. If I was a skier or a snowboarder or remotely interested in winter activities at all, I might have a different outlook that’s for sure.”

Having completed the project years ago, it was forgotten on a hard drive only recently resurfacing as winter’s grip tightens. February can be a long month.

“I was never really completely happy with the project,” said Goodwin, “but a lot of friends kept telling me to put it out, so a few weeks ago I asked Brad Perry to master it because winter was driving me nuts again.”

While Sans Solace may have originally been conceived simply as a means of passing the time, the end result is anything but short-lived. It goes well beyond that.

“It’s a lot more than just a winter recording. It’s built around a metaphor of acceptance. Some things we can’t avoid, and winter is one of them. You can shout at the wind all you want, but it’s still going to blow.”

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