CANON BLUE: Colonies (Rumraket)


Posted on Sep 27th 2007 11:32 pm

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Canon Blue: Colonies

Rumraket 2007
11 Tracks. 43mins55secs

Signed to Efterklang’s Rumraket imprint, which originally spawned Grizzly Bear, Canon Blue is singer song writer Daniel James. Originally from Virginia, James moved to New Orleans in early 2005 where he found himself playing guitar in a band. However, things soon turned sour and he returned to Virginia, escaping the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina by a couple of weeks. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

James shows a taste for catchy melodies which are then wrapped in distortions, treated guitars, electronics and acoustic instrumentation, which is not without recalling Echoboy or Khonnor. Colonies, his debut album, was partly composed on his grand mother’s piano before recording each song in his bedroom. He plays virtually all the instruments and also takes on all vocal duties, with Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor on mixing duties. Claiming influences ranging from Claude Debussy, Scott Walker and Serge Gainsbourg to Autechre, Boards Of Canada and Super_Collider, James creates here an album rich in textures and sounds where delicate melodies are given widescreen arrangements, often turning them into quietly cinematic pieces.

Although the music tentatively leans toward pop and rock forms, this is only a loose framework for James, who continuously brings on elements of folk and electronica to punctuate his songs. If the format is neither original nor groundbreaking, it is developed and applied with great care and conviction. Songs such as the softly focused Treehouse, Rum Diary or Odds And Ends or the more angular Battle Hymn are as many atmospheric shades, ranging from light and airy guitars to distorted and fragmented soundscapes, coiled tightly around strong melodic themes. On Sea Monsters, Mouth To Mouth and closing Baptesme, James opts for much more openly evocative arrangements serving sweeping melodies to great effect.

At times, James’s vocals vaguely recalls Jeff Buckley, especially on opener Treehouse, or a much more restrained Thom York, but these passing resemblances thankfully never overshadow his effort. Colonies appears at once slightly naïve in its approach and confident in execution, making it an inviting debut album and a strong addition to the consistently excellent Rumraket catalogue.


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