Review: Canter – Traveller

canter

Ever since I first heard a song by Canter, their sound have struck me as something unique and out of the regularly mashed out minimal wave, cold wave, dark wave, and synth-pop sound one has gotten used to nowadays. There’s a transgressive notion in their music that descends the genres and picks influences from each one of them. When I saw that TONN Recordings had released a new album by them, I just had to listen through it and do a track-by-track review of it.

What begins as a musical seance, “Deflection” slowly descends into a mixture of industrial and synthesizer-based music. It has a very unorthodox approach as to what track it should be that starts off an album, as this song isn’t very introductory but rather downtempo and experimentally odd. As if they’d walk on the steps of acapella, electronic music and post-punk – simultaneously. Subliminally it is a wicked song that etches onto your brain and have a very disturbing approach in general, vocally.

It very much seems to continue down the trodden path in “Traveller” for the first seconds or so – but instead takes a turn for melodic, surprisingly pop-oriented synth-pop music. They seem to be splintered as a group musically, but it builds on you and it feels like the metaphorical line on which they tread is ever expanding. Especially noticeable are the vocals in this song, how the singer accentuates the last lines in the lyrics and sets the melodies up for a continuum of greatness. Being their first album ever this song gives off a really promising and unique sound in the sense that it is like nothing I’ve heard before, in terms of simplicity but also in terms of ambiguous and ambitiously sounding synthesizer music.

One’s mind is blown when “Metal to Metal” comes on. What an imaginative and stylized type of electronic music they’re capable of making. Melodies upon melodies that are layered sufficiently to create both an overtone of raw energetic music and a mystic undertone. Unfortunately the vocals aren’t that inspiring on the song, but it doesn’t matter as they go well with the sound-scape anyway, so that is just a minor nuisance. It’s a dreamy song, a well-thought out one in terms of synthesizer sweeps, minor stabs and general rhythm. Slowly fading into nothingness one more time, the more you listen to it, the more you’re hooked and can’t stand anything else.

Just to have an upbeat song, titled “Red Heather“, throw em’ into the kind of maniacal but genial type of electronic body music Schwefelgelb handles – if they’d be stripped to the core and devoid of that harsh rhythm, and beats. This is more of a fast-paced electro-punk – at the core melodious darkwave – which goes from that spastic rhythm into a controlled, hard-line maelstrom of punishing emotional electronica. After each song they seem to outdo themselves in terms of musicality, as they play around with the clay in which they mold their wondrous, dreamy but human music.

Now this song I recognize, having had the pleasure of uploading it myself into my compilation titled “Ljudkalendern III” – the song “Same” was first to be featured there. It is more of a ballad, really. Breaking from the shyness of the vocals and maturing together with the uncompromising synth-pop. I notice this might come off as being a bit biased since I’ve released the song myself some time ago, but let it be that – I’m just giving you my honest opinion. The song is great in and of itself and it was well-placed on this release, since it feels like you’re moving to the end – as the album is.

The last song on the release, “Highest Peak“, reminds me a lot of one song from the Person:A-release “Beneath The Grey Line (Sketches)“. They share a lot of attributes at least, but Canter have a more shadowy approach. It is unfortunately one of the least great song on this release. It feels too splintered in and of itself that it only works as an outro, not as a way of bridging the release towards the end and making you (the listener) want more, or at least a forthcoming second album. Even though it fails in many ways it builds up quite a momentum – only too late.

I’m surprised that TONN Recordings have released such a good album. The other releases on that label haven’t been that much of interest, but with this one they’ve managed to set themselves up for future releases. It is more then a decent release, it is actually good and most of the songs hold up. Order the physical vinyl from them if you can, otherwise you can settle with the digital release itself. Listen to it in whole down below.

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