Frank Yang, Chromewaves Pop Montreal kicked off Wednesday night with a slew…
- Posted on May 18th 2011 5:30PM by Dave Morris
"It was kind of the springtime of my twenties," the lanky Van Pelt tells Spinner, "and I was having a lot of fun with my friends, living a pretty carefree existence in a kind of paradise in this kind of loft where we had set ourselves up." Though he still lives and works in Montreal, Van Pelt (also of rabble-rousing dance-rockers Think About Life) moved out of the space where 'Five Roses' was made shortly after finishing it. "Perhaps now I'm more rooted in the tribulations of the real world," he cautiously suggests. "That may have imprinted itself on the music a little more."
That's not to say 'Was I the Wave?' is his 'Berlin.' The album is full of hazy textures, like the wave of synths that build up through 'Raw Spectacle,' but the layers feel as artificial as the glow of a halogen lamp. It's seductive and alienating at the same time; sometimes listening to the stripped-down rhythm track in 'Immanent Domain,' you feel like a bug being seduced by a zapper. It's a departure, to be sure, but an audacious gamble that pays off when the songs become irretrievably stuck in your head.
Van Pelt good-naturedly chides those who think they had the Miracle Fortress sound nailed down. "The way I think about it is probably removed from how other people might think about it. To me, I made one record that sounded like that. I can change gears every record. That's kind of what keeps it interesting for me."
Another of those gears included the short-lived incarnation of Miracle Fortress that included the Luyas' Jessie Stein and Adam and the Amethysts' Adam Waito; other projects and Van Pelt's dissatisfaction with the direction of their writing together curtailed the lifespan of that lineup. With the current live setup of Van Pelt and Think About Life drummer Greg Napier, Van Pelt says, "I want to stay pretty true to the recordings, which are what I feel are the truest versions of the songs; to give people what they're familiar with, more than an interpretation or a remix or something that will appeal to some, but not everyone who's familiar with the project."
There's still a lightness carried over onto 'Was I the Wave?', due in large part to Van Pelt's nimble tenor, which leaps around on the spare but sunny likes of 'Spectre' just as easily as before. Even as it trades 'Five Roses'' bliss for uncertainty and doubt, it's a credit to Van Pelt as a producer that 'Wave?' shares some of that buoyant spirit.
He's been approached to play studio Svengali for another artist, though he sounds wistful when he admits he turned it down. "It went on to be a smash hit in Quebec and be all over magazine covers and everything. I wasn't sure if I had made the right call in the end. I think I'll get into producing other artists more when the road starts weighing on me, and I want a more sedentary existence. But it's definitely in my back pocket."