Waves (Darla, 10.09)
For: M83, Cocteau Twins, Panda Bear
Byline: The warmest shoegaze/dream-pop album this side of the analog divide. Totally underexposed and more than worth your attention.
Waves by Keith Canisius could be one of the most slept on albums of the past year. I'm not saying that because The TOME is late aboard the Canisius train but because of the relative dearth of coverage on the interwebs. This is downright criminal for something as good as the Danish Canisius to languish in obscurity when this album deserves to be heard. Keith Canisius was first brought to my attention by his remix of Aarkitca's "Autumnal" off the In Sea Remixes album. I listened to that track an unhealthy amount of times, being thrilled with Canisius' keyed up vocals and 80's shoegaze guitars, ethereal wave synths, and ironic-aware Top Gun riffage. It is safe to say that what I loved about that track shows up in spades on this album, but what really struck me about Waves is the multi-faceted directions he takes his influences. Canisius filters the thick synth pad and ambient guitar work of 80's shoegaze bands and delicate melodies of dream-pop through the nu- gaze of M83's reliance on heavy electronic manipulation. The result is something warm and hazy, like the obscured sun on the album cover. When separated, these two influences unfortunately play a little to close to the script, with the near Cocteau Twins sounding "Diving Day" and the Mew backwardness of "Eternal Moments". When Canisius takes complete ownership over his songs and combines both generations take on wall-of-noise ambience, they swirl together to create something wholly forward-thinking like any of the new "wave" artists spawning every month on the internet and aurally nostalgic like an 8mm film. Every track is saturated with layers of stereo-lapping synth warmness and meticulous attention to detail. "Oceans Oceans" is hands down the catchiest track on the album with a hook that has the shelf life of a twinkie bar. Title track "Waves" shows that the reach of Animal Collective, especially Panda Bear's Person Pitch has extended beyond our shores and is infecting (in the good sense) the output of European artists. In many ways, Waves has a lot in common with that album, both share a timeless sense of wanting to capture past moments and both sound ridicoulsy inviting, like you want to spend the rest of your summer vacation in the bath-water warm soundscapes of each track. The fortitious timing of this album couldn't be any better (even if it is several months late) as spring is finally here. These things have a way of just happening.