In October 2008, Jake Fox released a solo musical effort that would soon sprout a new band. The six-song EP Fickle Creatures, which Fox says he “wrote, recorded and released from home, just to see if I could do it,” was described critically as “an odyssey of sorts, revolving thematically around a movie that takes place in Fox’s mind.” The record attracted two intensely creative musicians. Sarah Sangster a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter; prior to entering the Cinema, she was a creative force behind two notable Winnipeg bands, Sixty Stories and Anthem Red, touring Europe and appearing in various projects around the ‘Peg. Luke Kyd, a touring percussionist from the age of 11 with a background in reggae, punk rock and metal, had the fortune of seeing his mother perform backup vocals with the Wailers; he also played drums for his sister, Van City punk legend Ani Kyd.
Together, the sound they make in the 200-square-foot rehearsal space is loud. As the opening thump of Kyd’s drum machine rhythm kicks in, his down-tempo/dub DJ experience becomes apparent. Slowly, Kyd dials down the high pass filter, allowing the pounding beat to catch up with Fox’s eerie fade-in guitar line. Cue Sangster’s ominous film-noir bass lead-in, and so begins one of Blank Cinema’s latest concoctions.
An electro-grunge rhapsody with elements of Dick Dale and David Byrne: call it “Rapturehead.” Having immersed from the dark and heavy, the three jump into an up-tempo indie-synth-pop track. “Seventeen” sets the tone somewhere between Depeche Mode and The Rentals—two bands whose MVPs are often cited by the band. Alan Wilder, the sonic architect behind Depeche Mode’s success, is revered by Kyd. And Sangster is inspired by Matt Sharp’s bass playing, which heightened the greatness of Weezer’s first two albums.
What sets Blank Cinema’s new material apart from the Fox’s self-produced EP, is the band’s playful and enthusiastic experimentation, and commitment to the individual ideas within each track. For Fox, writing material with Kyd and Sangster means the song ideas can evolve further. They also have less personal attachment, which in turn means they become more personal to the listener. Kyd describes the process of writing with the band; “I see Blank Cinema as a clean pallet.
Jake, as the original and founding member, brings material to the table that begins the process of the three of us melding our different, yet like-minded styles. The mixture of our varied approaches seems to combine indie rock, post-punk and synth-pop, with a peppering of reggae and DJ soundscapes.” As is the case with Fickle Creatures, the lyrics of Blank Cinema’s fresh material are both vivid and surreal. Fox assumes the perspective of a specific character or being, playing all parts in an ensemble cast. He describes “Rapturehead” as a genealogy of the lost, naming the Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” as one conceptual influence on the song.
And “Seventeen”? That’s about a card prodigy who loses to the devil. The viewpoints are farfetched, but the choruses apply to the acceptance of daily trials: “And if we’re stuck here till were seventy-one, we might as well get used to it.” “Money in the Bank,” which could well become the first hit off Blank Cinema’s upcoming full-length, is rich in its simplicity and monotone refrain: “You put the money in the bank/ Is that where it goes? Is that where it goes?” The single conjures up elements of Talking Heads’ “Naïve Melody” deposited over Eno-esque soundscapes. Blank Cinema continues to explore new terrain, and imaginary airplanes explode into sonic smithereens. blankcinema.com firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/blankcinema Read more on Last.fm.
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