DACEY – SATIN PLAYGROUND

DACEY
SATIN PLAYGROUND
Independent
Vancouver, BC
RIYL: SZA; Homeshake; Reverie Sound Revue

Heartbreak abounds on DACEY’s debut EP, SATIN PLAYGROUND, but the Vancouver quintet lift themselves up with a breezy mix of jazz, pop, hip-hop, and R&B. The members’ background as trained producers comes out in the seven songs’ warm, silky sound. Singer Dacey Andrada adds even more finesse as a jazz vocalist who grew up on Motown.

The buoyant “I’ll Be There” is perfect for walking away from a bad situation with your head held high; listening to the song, you can almost feel the sun in your eyes. And though Andrada gets hung up on memories of the good times on “See Thru Me” (“I keep on reminiscing what we had is gone,” she sings), slow jams like this will make you want to light a scented candle, spark up a joint, and chill out on your couch. And speaking of vibes, the fluid “SUMMERTIMEISDONE” could be an outtake from SZA’s Ctrl.

As Andrada sings on the groovy “Sidewalks,” “I’m only getting started.” SATIN PLAYGROUND is a confident first step for DACEY towards coming into their own.

– Leslie Ken Chu

Editor’s Note – Issue 4: Economics

EDITOR’S NOTE – Issue 4: economics

Art by: Amy Ash

The cover for New Feeling’s fourth issue, Economics, comes courtesy of Saint John artist Amy Ash. Her 2016 piece, Factory Girls (Time Change), features a photo of Hershey Co.’s last Canadian manufacturing plant, the Moirs factory. The facility operated out of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia until it shuttered in 2007. The piece also depicts two girls from a collection of photo negatives dating back to the early 20th Century in Atlantic Canada. “[Factory Girls] is from a project that explored the changing nature of families in Halifax when the Moirs factory opened because it made working outside the home both appealing and normalised for women, ultimately changing not only the economy but family dynamics,” Ash explains in a statement. New Feeling aspires to likewise change the music economy by prioritizing equity in our co-op membership, the freelance writers and visual artists we contract, and the music we cover.

Ironically, New Feeling originally planned our Economics issue for December 2020, the same month we decided to pause publication to focus on organizational matters including remuneration for writers. (You can read more about New Feeling’s development as a cooperative here.)

Fast forward to today. New Feeling has been pre-approved for a SOCAN grant to fund our fourth issue. Though we are thankful this grant allows us to continue publishing and upholds our goal of paying writers and visual artists, relying on grants creates a precarious existence. Going forward, we are launching a membership drive. We hope everything New Feeling has managed to accomplish thus far—without a steady income stream—will encourage our readers to join the co-op and directly support us in our ongoing work towards equity in music journalism.

The SOCAN grant has allowed New Feeling to open our call for story pitches to writers outside the co-op for the first time. Aly Laube takes a deep dive into Canada’s inequitable grant system as it pertains to operations funding for non-profits. Roshanie weighs the risks and benefits of crowdfunding platforms for both artists and fans. Sumiko Wilson speaks with a money expert who teaches financial literacy through the lens of healing trauma. Kaelen Bell illuminates the psychedelic brilliance of the Poppy Family’s 1969 record, Which Way You Goin’ Billy?

As for our organizing members, Tom Beedham extols Guelph’s most exciting new artists. He also explains how playlist algorithms and the pay-per-stream model devalues the labour—and craft—behind tracks that exceed the standard length of hits.

New Feeling is excited to be back, and we hope you are just as excited to see us.

Leslie Ken Chu, co-founder, New Feeling

special delivery – 人生的配樂 vol. 1

special delivery
人生的配樂 vol. 1
Independent
Montréal, QC
RIYL: sitting outside a recital hall during practice; stumbling through language lessons; home appliances

Montréal composer special delivery uses found sound and spoken recordings to draw attention to the musicality of everyday life. The nine tracks on 人生的配樂 vol. 1 (which means Soundtrack of a Lifetime) are exercises in patience and focus, for listeners and herself. She hones her harp skills for five minutes on “practicing repetition” and fumbles and stumbles through Mandarin lessons on “am i saying it right?.”

人生的配樂 vol. 1 is a sensory experience beyond the ears. The scent of flowers rises as birds chirp on “nature and machinerie.” And whatever is being pried apart on “breaking pranks,” you can feel thin pieces of wood splintering in your hands.

On “fridge musich,” special delivery realizes her fridge is an orchestra. She imitates its droning, oscillating noises in a croaking voice. “I wish I had recorded it, but if I went to get my phone, I would have missed the whole thing,” she laments.

The fleeting nature of her fridge’s music sums up 人生的配樂 vol. 1‘s emphasis on the present moment. She captures snippets of subtle time as they occur or recounts them because they’ve eluded her. Concentrate on 人生的配樂 vol. 1 as diligently as special delivery practices harp and Mandarin, and revelation will be your reward.

Leslie Ken Chu

Air Creature – Every Emotion

Air Creature
Every Emotion
Independent
Vancouver, BC
RIYL: engine failure; broken propellers; electrical storms

Spencer Schoening might be best known as the former drummer in JUNO Award-winning indie rock band Said the Whale, but few people know that within him lies a different beast. He himself didn’t know, until he heard Pulse Demon by harsh noise legend Merzbow. Roused by the demon’s call, what once lay dormant has now reared its head, and Schoening has given it a name: Air Creature.

The four pulverizing tracks on Air Creature’s Every Emotion crackle with electrical buzz. The churning “Hiddenness” will make you seasick on land. The distorted “Wilderness Pup” screeches and thrashes like T-1000 meeting its demise. “Poorest in the Forest” sputters and never lifts off, like a helicopter shooting smoke from its engine. When Air Creature pulls the plug on livewire shocker “Massive Aggressive,” the abrupt ending leaves you reeling.

You won’t find the bright, melodic sounds typically associated with ecstatic joy on Every Emotion—in fact, you might not be able to pinpoint what you feel. But disorientation elicits a peculiar bliss, perhaps one of numbness. Listening to Every Emotion, you will feel something, and sometimes, it’s better to wonder than to know for sure.

Leslie Ken Chu

Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg Creates Healing Through Music

A portrait of Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg, Memory Pearl
A portrait of Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg, Memory Pearl

MOSHE FISHER-ROZENBERG CREATES HEALING THROUGH MUSIC

HOW THE ABSOLUTELY FREE DRUMMER’S EVOLVING CREATIVITY LED HIM TO MUSIC THERAPY

By: Leslie Ken Chu | Photo by: Colin Medley

“In terms of the music industry, I definitely have had to rejig my relationship with that whole pursuit of success. I’ve kind of abandoned that.”

Whether drumming with experimental rock trio Absolutely Free, making ambient electronic music as Memory Pearl, DJing, remixing, or dabbling in criticism, Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg’s relationship with music is constantly evolving. “I go a little crazy if I feel that I’m not going forward in certain ways,” he tells me over Zoom. This curiosity and restlessness has led him to his current vocation, music therapy.

Fisher-Rozenberg is in the second and final year of his master’s degree in music therapy at Wilfrid Laurier University. “I’ve been touched by so many people who have had difficulties navigating their mental health,” he says, before adding that he has faced similar obstacles. “Music therapy is not just for addressing mental health,” he points out, “but that was the draw for me… I wanted to deepen that relationship [with music], and music therapy seemed to be a good direction.”

Music therapy can treat an array of cognitive, communicative, and motor symptoms related to dementia, schizophrenia, autism, depression, aphasia, Parkinson’s, and more. Exercises like clapping hands, tapping feet, and singing can improve breathing, heart rate, and blood flow. “It’s pretty all-encompassing,” Fisher-Rozenberg says. “The important thing is it’s not a one-size-fits-all. You have your patient, together you create goals, and then the music therapist will approach the music therapy sessions in a way that is specific for those goals.”

Prior to his studies, Fisher-Rozenberg volunteered for two years at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. There, he worked with individuals with schizophrenia. “My intention was to help them feel a little bit of control. They’re so powerless in so many ways, so to create an atmosphere where they can feel empowered was really important, and then also to create that sense of community, because it’s a fine line between feeling you’re at a hospital and feeling that you’re maybe being held prisoner.” To achieve this, he led interactive group sessions that mostly involved group drumming, but also individual singing and poetry. “Depending on the approach, a lot of verbal processing can really help to digest some of the things that come up in the music.”

Although he used music therapy techniques in his volunteer work, Fisher-Rozenberg clarifies that his practice was informal. “I was kind of just feeling it out and experimenting, whereas now I’m reading a lot of literature and learning a lot of official approaches.” Without certification, one cannot call their practice music therapy. “They’re not going to get as deep,” he says, “but they can still use songwriting or music listening, for instance, with patients.”

To this point, he notes that we use music therapeutically every day. “Even just going dancing can manipulate your emotions, or it can give you energy.” But what’s the difference between casual conversation and psychotherapy, he asks? “Speaking with a psychotherapist is going to be very different, because it’s going to be guided; there’s going to be clinical goals associated with those conversations. And there’s a potential for things to really deepen and for unconscious material to come to the surface in a way that’s not going to happen necessarily if you’re chatting with a friend over a beer. It might not have that same safety.”

That lack of distinction between formal and informal practice isn’t the only misconception about music therapy. “The whole fuckin’ field is built upon misconceptions,” Fisher-Rozenberg replies without missing a beat when I ask for examples. “Some of the misconceptions that are bothersome would be that music therapy is showing up with a guitar and playing tunes, like entertaining. If you Google music therapy, probably the first thing that comes up is somebody with a big smile on their face playing acoustic guitar to a group of elderly people or a group of children,” he presumes accurately. But he states firmly: “It’s not about entertainment at all. It’s about collaborative and interactive experiences.”

“I do group sessions, and my biggest fear is that I will be expected to be an entertainer. But in those instances, you come up with group goals.” Referring back to his work with individuals with schizophrenia, who can feel particularly isolated in a long-term care facility, he explains his approach: “I’m gonna be trying to create engagement and relationships between them so they can feel a sense of home in an atmosphere where they do not feel that they’re at home… So me just standing in front of them and playing Elvis is not gonna do that. All that’s gonna do is entertain them for five minutes.”

Fisher-Rozenberg also takes exception to the conflation of music therapy and the wellness industry. “A lot of people claim that they can heal you with vibey music. I think maybe they call it sound therapy. But from what I know, that’s a little rogue, because so far in my studies, I haven’t read much about using drone music to heal a person.” He does acknowledge that every person responds differently to music. “The cliché, corny relaxation music is not gonna work for everybody. It may be relaxing for one person, but for another, it can be extremely aggravating,” he says, reiterating his point that one size does not fit all. “For music to actually help a person, it has to be their preferred music. For one person to relax, yeah, okay, maybe [it’s] the sounds of the rainforest and some harp, like you’d hear at a spa. For another person maybe it’s Black Sabbath, which is counter-intuitive.”

Misconceptions exist among music therapists, too. Although he’s relatively new to the field, he’s observed a spectrum of thought. “On the left side is expressive therapies, so that’s your catharsis, like getting out emotions and things like that. And then on the right side is brain stuff, like, what does music actually do to your brain? How do you use music to rehabilitate somebody’s speech? How do you use music to rehabilitate somebody’s fine motor skills? And those two sides don’t seem to get along very well.” Fisher-Rozenberg straddles the middle. “If you’re a therapist, you gotta be able to hold both [views]. That’s the whole beauty of therapy: it allows people to hold two totally disparate thoughts or feelings at the same time and then integrate them. So as therapists, we should be doing that.”

Music therapists work out of various settings. In private practice, patients go to the therapist. Contracted therapists move between facilities, like clinics, hospitals, and group homes. In-house therapists are stationed in one facility. Fisher-Rozenberg is currently limited to Zoom sessions from his home, but in a way, they’ve expanded the possibilities of his practice. “It’s actually good for me because I have a lot of electronic leanings. I like to use lots of electronic music technologies, and I can integrate all of those. I don’t know if you can see behind me” – he points to a collection of consoles in his background – “there’s some big, old synths. I can’t bring those with me, but now I’m able to use them.”

Lee Krasner – Untitled, 1948

He’s also been using electronic technology to explore his possibilities as a musician. Over the last two years, Fisher-Rozenberg worked on his debut solo album as Memory Pearl, Music for 7 Paintings. Its seven electronic instrumentals cascade between calming, luminous ambience, with sweeping sonic immersions and cosmic journeys built upon percolating, comet-tailed synths. The compositions incite the sort of astral projection that might occur when gazing at the Abstract Expressionist paintings each track is named after. These references include Jackson Pollock (Number 28, 1950), Lee Krasner (Untitled, 1948), Helen Frankenthaler (Natural Answer, 1976; Red and Brown Scene, 1961), Joan Mitchell (Sunflower, 1969), Franz Kline (Cupola, 1958-1960), and Robert Ryman (Untitled #17, 1958).

“It was very personal,” Fisher-Rozenberg says of Music for 7 Paintings. “There’s some music therapy theory that would apply to my process.” He began by observing a painting, then journaling and translating that writing into compositions. “By going from one modality to another to another, a lot of unconscious material surfaced. And that’s one way that people use music therapy: they go from drawing to writing to singing to talking, and jumping between all those different modalities helps them to uncover this top secret unconscious information about themselves that helps them to be a more integrated individual.”

The album’s electronic aesthetic was straightforward, though, derived from music he enjoyed, like Laurie Spiegel, Tim Hecker, Wolfgang Voigt, and obvious minimalist touchstones Brian Eno and Steve Reich. “It’s so basic,” he laughs. “I cannot help but be influenced by the music I love, and especially as this is my first substantial work as a solo artist, I felt I needed to honour and represent this aesthetic that I’ve had brewing for so long… This was like a freedom where I was really trying to honour this vibe that is so important to me, but I’ve never had a project where I could express that aesthetic.”

Fisher-Rozenberg’s work as Memory Pearl echoes what he loves about abstract art. “It allows for interpretation, which is a beautiful thing, because the last thing you want is to listen to a piece of music and to be told exactly how to listen to it, exactly what it means. I think it’s much more important for a viewer or a listener to be able to insert themselves and insert their own history into a work.”

Helen Frankenthaler – Red and Brown Scene, 1961

However music is experienced or applied, Fisher-Rozenberg marvels at its mystical power to evoke memories and emotions. “If you’re sad and you’re listening to sad music, that’s because the music is validating your feelings… But then on the flip side, we use music all the time to manipulate our feelings: maybe I’m feeling sad, but I don’t want to feel sad, so I’ll put on some kind of sunshine record.” Moreover, music can provide a safe distance from one’s own trauma, a baby step towards being able to confront that trauma. “If I have trauma in my life, maybe I’m not quite ready to confront that trauma. But if I hear something similar in a song, I can just talk about the song. I don’t have to talk about myself.”

Though we’ve all been using music in these ways our whole lives, “It’s a little chaotic, and we can’t quite put the words to it,” Fisher-Rozenberg says. “We don’t even think about this stuff. We just do it because intuitively, it feels safe, and it feels right.” Music therapy, he summarizes, is “making a science of it and then using those tools to help people reach [rehabilitation] goals in an organized way.”

If we all take a moment to think about how we use and experience music every day – how safe and right it makes us feel – then like Fisher-Rozenberg, our relationship with this mystical force will deepen, too.

Music for 7 Paintings is out now via Idée Fixe Records.

blueberry lemon – The Blue-Winged Warbler

blueberry lemon
The Blue-Winged Warbler
Self Released
Halifax, NS
RIYL: John Fahey; Vashti Bunyan; migration season

Gloom presides over the eight ambient, folky guitar instrumentals on blueberry lemon’s The Blue-Winged Warbler. “Northern Cardinal, Flightless” namechecks a species that nests in shrubs, but why is this one flightless? What ran through blueberry lemon’s head or heart while writing “Crow’s Tears?” Did blueberry lemon witness the literal “Death of an Osprey”?

“Blue Jay, Where Have You Gone?” and “Blue Jay and the Hawk” prompt less grim questions, about the colourful bird’s mysterious migration patterns and penchant for mimicking hawk calls.

Like birding, listening to instrumental music is an exercise in patience and a way to lose yourself in thought. Sightings aren’t guaranteed, and neither are revelations about your deepest questions; they might flicker past you, if they come to you at all. “I spend hours trying to spot tiny distant creatures that don’t give a shit if I see them or not,” musician Jack Breakfast told Kyo Maclear in her book, Birds Art Life. “I spend most of my time loving something that won’t ever love me back. Talk about a lesson in insignificance.” 

Don’t get hung up on your smalless, though. Get lost in wonder about the world around you with The Blue-Winged Warbler.

Leslie Ken Chu

Nature Walk – King of Wands

Nature Walk
King of Wands
Self-Released
Victoria, BC
RIYL: Magnetic Fields; Camera Obscura, tweed

The four tracks on Nature Walk’s King of Wands span fizzy dream pop and electronic folk as light as a pile of leaves. In her sole appearance on the EP, a singer identified only as Fox on Bandcamp lends her melancholy-tinged voice to “Real One.” Wandering finger-picked acoustic guitar lines weave together like twigs in a bird’s nest on the leisurely “Sun Bath.” The song appeals to the senses, with references to “sweet hummingbird mint,” “flowers breaking through cement,” “drinking from the moon midday,” and breezes that chill you out of your daydreams.

Distant bird calls and children’s shouts inhabit the dewy, lilting, and otherwise instrumental “Sun Shower,” evoking parting clouds after a heavy rainfall. “Tranquility” brings a more internal peace over misty keys. Here, Nature Walk sings of frozen, timeless contentedness with a special someone named Ricky Jane. “I’m never lost, and though I may wander / I pray that distance will make / The heart grow fonder.” 

Don’t roll the dice on distance – queue up King of Wands for your next amble and find serenity with Nature Walk.

Leslie Ken Chu

Hermitess – Celestial

Hermitess
Celestial
Self-Released
Calgary, AB
RIYL: Weyes Blood; Wallgrin; staring at the night sky and feeling like something’s staring back

Jennifer Crighton wraps existential questions in viscous harp melodies on Celestial, her second EP as Hermitess. Like last year’s Tower, these four songs are loosely based on one of the Major Arcana, the trump cards in tarot. This time, she’s chosen the Star, a harbinger of despair and disappointment, but also inspiration, hope, and opportunity.

Celestial finds Crighton feeling small on Earth while contemplating the vastness of the universe. You can feel her anxiety rise on “Artificial Stars,” where Aria Janzen’s synthesizer effects blow like milk across the sky. Pedal steel is widely considered an earthy instrument, due to its prevalence in country music, but Wayne Garrett uses it to push the lonely, ponderous instrumental “Spacewalk I : Spooky Action At a Distance” farther up towards the infinite. “Celestial Bodies” offers tranquility, as Crighton’s harp melody pools around Melissa McWilliams’ percussive raps.

Like the Tower EP, Crighton has expanded her creative universe on Celestial – fed up with abusive treatment from male producers, she sought femme collaborators she’d never worked with before, specifically sound engineers. Although the big questions about life and existence still swirl in her head, she can find comfort among the new collaborators she’s pulled into her orbit; finding her footing in an unpredictable, mysterious world has become less lonely, more inspiring, and more opportune. This star is just beginning to shine.

– Leslie Ken Chu

Sadé Awele
Time Love Journey
Self-Released
Vancouver, BC
RIYL: Jamila Woods; Aquakultre; Natalie Slade

Self-care takes time and love. For some people, it’s a journey. Nigerian-born singer Sadé Awele maps her path to self-preservation on her groovy, nocturnal EP, Time Love Journey. “You have to walk that road on your own / … / Are you even willing to try?” she asks on “Care.” Along with committing your own emotional labour, you have to be open to critical reflection: “How can you be so guarded? / I don’t understand it,” her interrogation continues.

Awele commands a breathless cool on the self-assured “No Love Lost.” Faint background horns mingle with pattering percussive brushes, creating a restrained energy on “Peak.” “These are my emotions,” she sings on this humid song, baring her vulnerability as she tries to conquer her anxiety and stay on top of her game.

“Take it easy, take it slow / We’ve got so far to go,” she repeats as thick bass, overhanging brass, and warm, smooth keys propel “Take It Easy” towards a crescendo. Sadé Awele proves self-care is worth the labour. She’s playing the long game, and I have a feeling she’s going to stick it out.

Leslie Ken Chu