Saltland a project led by Montreal-based cellist Rebecca Foon, best known as a founding member of contemporary chamber group Esmerine and a former member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion and Set Fire To Flames. Foon began composing solo work in 2010, featuring multi-layered cello and hushed vocals at the intersection of drone, no-wave, improv, dream-pop and minimalism. Joined by Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Esmerine) on miniature percussion, programming and signal processing, Foon's live performances in Montreal and abroad over the past two years have seen her sound progress towards gently rhythmic and electronic territory as well. She has transfixed audiences with this new music while sharing the stage with Mary Margaret O'Hara, Julia Kent, Nat Baldwin and Sam Amidon, among others. As her largely home-recorded debut album began taking shape throughout 2011, with numerous guests contributing to various pieces, Foon adopted the Saltland moniker for this work.
I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us is a beautifully restrained debut album that telescopes the directness and economy of Foon's compositional and vocal styles into lush, twilight atmospheres aglow with luminescent tendrils and flickering particles. Foon sings of childhood innocence lost, of tender utopic reveries and downcast dystopic horizons, and the search for soft, stoic strength in a darkening, devolving world. Foon’s voice is discreet but defined, drifting on buoyant currents of sound sourced from her plucked and bowed cello lines, in most cases propelled by Thompson's bespoke percussion and understated programming/processing, with touches of guitar, bass, horns, woodwinds, strings and backing vocals added by a cast of supporting players. The record unfurls like a gauzy flag in a restless breeze at dusk: a delicate, resolute sentinel set against the fading light.
The album's ambience also owes much to the work of Mark Lawson, the award-winning engineer (Arcade Fire) who collaborated closely with Foon to record and mix these songs at Six Saint V, her apartment studio in Montreal. Lawson, along with friend and percussionist Thompson, helped to forge a balance between lo-fi intimacy and shimmering breadth with these recordings, remaining faithful to the all-anologue instrumentation of the source material while judiciously deploying signal processing strategies to subtly refract, saturate and expand the sonic landscape. With contributions from Laurel Sprengelmeyer and Jess Robertson (Little Scream), Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson), Colin Stetson (Bon Iver), Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) among others, Saltland offers up an unassumingly immersive debut album of searching songs that blend several core influences into a distinctively naturalistic sound. Saltland stakes out an unaffected, meditative, clear-eyed and earnest space where minimalism, dream-pop, drone, shoegaze, confessional folk, chamber music, and ambient/electronic coexist and coalesce.
released May 14, 2013
Rebecca Foon: Voice, Cello, Pump Organ
with Jamie Thompson: Drums, Percussion, Programming
Mishka Stein: Bass (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8)
Laurel Sprengelmeyer: Guitar (1, 3, 8); Backing Vocals (1, 3, 6, 7, 8)
Jess Robertson: Bass Flute (1, 3, 8); Backing Vocals (1, 3, 7, 8)
Sarah Neufeld: Violin (1, 8)
Colin Stetson: Saxophone (1, 2)
Richard Reed Parry: Guitar (4); Backing Vocals (3, 7)
Kaveh Nabatian: Kalimba, Trumpet (4)
Bruce Cawdron: Glockenspiel, Percussion (6)
Alex Chow: Violin (7)
Sarah Pagé: Harp, Dulcimer, Backing Vocals (7)
Mathieu Charbonneau: Keyboard (8)
Mark Lawson: Keyboard (6); Programming (1, 8)
Composed by Rebecca Foon.
Produced by Mark Lawson and Rebecca Foon.
Recorded and mixed by Mark Lawson at Six Saint V and The Pines in Montréal.
Additional recording by Martin Horn. Additional mixing by Jace Lasek at Breakglass in Montréal.
Mastered by Ryan Morey.
Back/inside photo by Brad Todd.
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