Electronic organic democratic

Azeda Booth quietly create delicate durable anthemic lullabies

If you’ve come anywhere within spitting distance of Calgary’s independent music scene in the last couple of years then you’ve heard the name Azeda Booth. It seems almost everyone’s talking about them and the talk is overwhelmingly positive. With the release of their full-length debut; In Flesh Tones Azeda Booth both justify and contradict all the hype and expectation that preceded the release. The music is awash in subtleties and contradictions: gentle yet powerful electronic yet organic ambient yet infused with excitement. All the disparate elements somehow add up to a much greater if somewhat unlikely whole. It ain’t rock ’n’ roll but I like it. Apparently so do a lot of other people.

The pressures of living up to great expectations were not really a factor during the recording process. “Only because it was so fast” says guitarist and beat architect Morgan Greenwood. “There was no time to feel pressured. We just had to worry about doing it.” Guitarist-keyboardist Marc Rimmer agrees though he says that things might change next time. “I definitely feel like the next album there will be expectations weighing down on our shoulders” he says “but recording In Flesh Tones was just fun.” They describe the jam-space recording process as really random and uninformed with tons of experimenting. Greenwood was the unofficial engineer. “A proper sound engineer coming in would have thought it was ridiculous” he says.

Singer percussionist and occasional guitar player Jordan Hossack sings in a breathy alien falsetto that is so effective more than a few listeners have been surprised to find out that the sound emanated from someone with a Y chromosome. “I was listening to a lot of people who were singing in high-pitched voices and it made me feel nice to listen to it” Hossock shrugs.

Azeda Booth’s first EP was recorded by Greenwood and Hossock as a duo. Mysterious Body generated a buzz and a demand for live appearances. “We got everyone else involved just to play live but it really was an experiment just to see if it was going to be a more exciting live show” says Greenwood. “From that point forward there really was no question. It was like ‘yeah we’re a band!’” Azeda Booth were embraced immediately on the home front and the band’s stature has grown steadily since.

Recently Pitchfork media that international Internet bastion of independent music criticism echoed and reinforced what Calgarians were already saying heaping effusive praise on In Flesh Tones. They described the songs as “lullabies on the scale of anthems” the atmosphere as “coloured as soap bubbles… with a paradoxically leaden sense of weight” “both idiosyncratic and durable” and said the album was a “profoundly intuitive musical vision.” Rimmer recalls the review arriving on birthday. “I was kind of depressed the night before for some reason and Morgan called ‘Wake up wake up! Pitchfork!’” The effect of the review was immediate. “Our Myspace exploded. Usually we top out at like 150 [visitors] in a day but that day it was over 5000!”

Though knocking on the door of a music club genre where pretension is practically a password Azeda Booth comes off as utterly unpretentious and grounded; just a group of talented individuals who through collaboration and experimentation have achieved something quite quietly wonderful. Even the logistical problem of sharing two members with another much talked about Calgary band indie quartet Women is resolved through amiable compromise. “We would like to devote as much time to both projects as we possibly can but it’s just going to be scheduling mayhem” drummer Mike Wallace explains “These guys are going to manage as a three-piece when me and Chris are gone and then when we come back it’s going to be all five of us.”

Greenwood Hossock Rimmer and Wallace clustered around a picnic table in Riley Park present a perfect portrait of down-to-earth Sunnyside optimism. Greenwood summarizes: “We just like good music everyone just really loves music no one would rather be doing anything else. We all look forward to the next jams we all look forward to the next shows.” Rimmer wholeheartedly agrees: “I think part of it too the reason it does come more naturally is we all have been friends for a really long time. It’s not just a band that we go to after we hang out with our bros it’s like our bros are our band.”