[sic] magazine - spring 2013 spring 2013 - Page 7

follow the piper by Matt J. Simmons What do you see when you close your eyes and look at the sun? What do y ou feel in that moment just before you fall asleep? What do your dreams smell like? If you can answer these questions with any kind of clar ity, then you might have a chance of describing the recently released Pick a Piper album. Pick a Piper is a collabora tive project (recently signed to Mint Records) tha t has Car ibou’s drummer and musical madman, Brad Weber at the helm. Weber, if you’ve ever had the good for tune to catch Caribou in concert, is an exceptionally talented dr ummer, but in Caribou, that’s his g ig—drumming. And sure, when it comes to rockin’ a Caribou show, that’s a big role (drums are front and centre on the stage), but it sure isn’t as big as leading a collabora tive psychedelic electronic dance outfit into the murky and uncertain world of putting out a record. “Dan Snaith wr ites and r ecords all the tracks in Caribou and br ings it to the r est of us (m yself, John Schmersal, and Ryan Smith) and we collaborate on how to make it work as a full band,” says Weber. “Pick a Piper is my creative/songwriting outlet where I can finally get pesky song ideas out of m y head and hopefully into the ears of many friendly listeners!” The self-titled alb um opens up with Lucid in Fjords, a song formed from a driving percussive rhythm, insistent bass line , and spacey psychedelic arpeggios. Ryan McPhun from the Ruby Suns pulls the track together on vocals. McPhun’s not the only guest vocalist to make the record. “Dan Roberts and Angus Fraser are my main collabora tors and I couldn’ t have done this without them,” says Weber. “But I also open up the doors to other likeminded friends. I kinda describe the process as ‘sampling my friends’.” The album’s second track, All Her Colour s, has Weber’s bandmate Schmersal (who also mix ed and engineered the record) singing falsetto to a bac kdrop of tight Caribou-esque drums and percussive elements, with washy synth lines making the whole thing come acr oss almost orchestral. “I start with a drum loop usually and then maybe add bass and/or a melody or two and various pals record ideas/loops/bits along to it,” Weber says. “Often two or more people r ecord along to the same trac ks without hearing the other person’s ideas. I choose what I like and cut up and manipulate what they have given me and make full tracks from it! In the end I had a few good friends rerecord our vocal ideas with their voice, or in some cases without me asking, gave me entirely new vocal ideas that ended up being amazing! I believe a lot in collabora tion, you’ll find a lot of tha t on this r ecord, but I’ve strived to make it cohesive and focused in a w ay that tricks the listener into thinking it’ s the ideas of just one or two people.” Did it w ork? Well, you can tell the difference between singers like Raphaelle Standell-Preston from Braids and Andy Lloyd from Born Ruffians, but apart from distinct vocals, the alb um has a pr etty cohesive sound. Like the Chemical Brothers’ use of cameo vocalists, Pick a Piper weaves its variety of contributions into something that feels, from start to finish, like the product of one mind, albeit a mind that drifts in and out of wisps of aural ephemera. Weber cites Schmersal’s adeptness in the mix as being integral to the album’s togetherness. “It may not sound that way, but I tried my best to really focus into the key ideas of each track and not to make it too dense. This record is actually pretty sparse for me compared to my past. [Schmersal] further focused our record by really honing in on the k ey ideas of eac h track in his mixing process.” If you want to get an idea of wha t Pick a Piper sounds like, without actually listening to it, think of early Caribou (back when they went by Manitoba), focus in on the percussive elements and add a heaping tab lespoon of 6 [sic] spring 2013.indd 7 13-04-04 1:28 PM