National Music Reviews December 2015

Review: Thus Owls – Black Matter

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 Thus Owls – Black Matter

Thus Owls
Black Matter

Secret City
Street: 11.06
Thus Owls = Voice Coils + Kate Bush + Grizzly Bear

Black Matter is an interesting animal: proggy as fuck; tightly composed but with room for exploratory jamming; poppy in that left-field 2015 way; synth-heavy but enough backbone to exist in some rockist universe. Erika Angell’s vocals jump from a breathy contralto to a lilting soprano when she sells it on the choruses or recycles it in snippets among the pointillist electronics and washes of sunbaked guitar. Black Matter finds Erika and husband Simon collaborating with several luminaries in the Canadian experimental-rock world (Suuns, Bell Orchestre), with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason contributing to the string compositions. Songs like “Shields” are tightly wound, linear songs with lush, depthless auxiliary instrumentation that conjur Grizzly Bear at their prog-pop finest (Bjarnason playing their Nico Muhly). “Black Matter” gets downright cacophonous with buzzing synths, distorted electronic percussion, slaying guitar work and Angell’s voice whipping into a primal chant of summoned black magic. –Ryan Hall