Thursday, December 10, 2009

You Are My Symphonic (SCQ's Year-End Questionnaire Part II)

Montreal resident You Are My Symphonic (aka Vishal Kassie) took a left-turn from his early recordings this year with Afternoon Birds of Arima, a post-classical, instrumental album written to soundtrack his friends’ wedding. A graceful song-suite of piano, guitar and soft ambience, Afternoon Birds of Arima succeeded well beyond wedding hall confines and has found new listeners around the world. While that second You Are My Symphonic release is available for free here, Kassie dives into his favourite albums, songs and the memories that define them.

SCQ: What have been some of your favourite records of 2009? Gush away!


Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion and Bon Iver - Blood Bank

After a one year hiatus, my best friend and I embarked on a massive listening session from the moment he arrived off the bus just past midnight in the middle of the week. It started with the frosty sounds of title track "Blood Bank" and the layered voiced of "The Woods" that were thrown all over my apartment too quickly for us to catch our breath. It had been several years since the first heart attacks we suffered at the hands of "Feels" and we decided it was about time for MPP. I wish we had set up a camera ready to snap us on the couch like we were on a roller-coaster during those extremely long few seconds of the steepest drop. The first explosive notes threw us off the cushions and it's shockwave shot us against the wall. I would be funny if years from now we'd be searching through our dresser and desk drawers to stumble upon a cheesy photo in a card with our shocked faces in the screaming wind with the words Merriweather Post Pavillion.


Dreamsploitation - The Soft Focus Sound Of Today

We packed up the car with the keyboard and guitars to head over to the jam space to play with some friends. "Death To The Chuck I Hate" played CBC Radio 2 and I had to cut the car conversation to concentrate and try to make sense of it. I took note of the time and tried my best to remind myself throughout the night before checking the playlist to find out exactly what jazz-electronic song nearly caused me to swerve off the road. I picked up the album and it was clear I had to wait for the first insanely nice day of spring before opening myself up to Dreamsploitation. Walking through the park filled with people outside who were seeing the sun for the first time in months, the trumpets and strings of The Soft Focus Sound Of Today played a preview of the nostalgia that was coming our way in the upcoming sun filled months.

Peter Broderick - Home


Plastik Joy - 3:03
Near the end of June, I returned to Newfoundland, Canada for the funeral of a best friend's mother. The week's emotional moments played one after the other in perfect order like they were best suited for a film storyline that was equally heartbreak, family discovery and comedic segways. That Sunday we toured around the bays and came back to the house to find everyone sleeping and we decided to do the same outside. I played through 3:03 and as I reached the back end, my nose was tickled by my allergies and realized if I continued to stifle my body, I would stop my breath. Marie was on the hammock behind me trying to sleep and I was facing the sun trying to breathe. I let out a giant sneeze at the end of that very track and woke her. I used the long pauses in between the guitar riffs on "Asynchrony of Lives" to calm down that late afternoon and sealed it as my favorite song of the year.


Nico Muhly - Mothertongue

SCQ: Be it from the radio, lost on Myspace or your own personal discovery, what song(s) could you not stop spinning?

Telefon Tel Aviv - 'Helen Of Troy'

Farr - 'Senandung Mimpi (Serenade Of A Dream)'
My discovery of Summer Rain Recordings was purely accidental but turned out to be one of the most unexpected and refreshing finds by googling some key words that I thought would be appropriate for an album's first listen. "Summer", "Rain" and "Records" gave me a link to the diversely moody electronic/experimental label and who's artists each donate a percentage of their revenues to NextAid or a charity of their choice. My documentary-travelling had recently shifted to the South Pacific's "Last Nomads" and coincidentally I stumbled upon Farr who hails from Jakarta.

Toro Y Moi - 'Blessa'

SCQ: Seldom celebrated but crucial to The Album’s identity is cover-art. Can you offer any shortlist of personal favourites from the past year?

Danny Norbury - Light In August

Ramses III - I Could Not Love You More

SCQ: When you look back on what transpired this year, what will stand out as your most memorable professional moment(s) of 2009?

This moment actually began in the summer of 2008 when my friends Richard and Keisha asked me in their casual way to write the notes that would start their lives together. I was as much surprised and honored as terrified of the prospect of writing the suite for their entire wedding. After I got past the initial logistic worries (how long does it take a bride to walk up the aisle? I really need 15 minutes of music for people to sit in the pews?) I found myself excited to write. The character of the next three seasons had found their way into Afternoon Birds of Arima which was played at Santa Rosa Catholic Church in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago. This album also marks the 22 years it took me to return to my birthplace. I visited the grave of a brother I never knew and darted across the island from the mountains of the north to the fields of the south to meet with both halves of my family and to recapture those childhood images that became faded. In the past, I had only made a few CDRs for my family and friends but now I see appearances on blogs, message boards and podcasts. I'm happy and relieved to report that the newlyweds hold Afternoon Birds of Arima close to their hearts.

SCQ: Most of us probably haven’t thought as far as New Years Eve plans but still, looking forward, what do you have on the horizon for 2010?

Back in the spring of 2008, I had put together an album that mirrored my move to a new city and how my friends and family kept appearing to me in the streets, on the metro or at a party. It was nearly completed but was tragically lost during a daylight robbery. I'm glad to say that it is being re-written and has taken on a larger personality than its younger sister. I hope to complete it sometime in the upcoming spring. Other than that, maybe I'll finally do what me and my best friend have been talking about with a dreamy tone: Rent a country house for a few weeks and write some haunting melodies with the creaky piano floors.

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