June 8, 2017

Premiere: Couleur Dessin - "Traveling with Rocks"

Watch a colorful new video from Montreal's Couleur Dessin.

Day by day, the phrase “indie band from Montreal” in the late 2010’s is drawing as much expected promise as it once did in the early aughts. Like a barrel of monkeys, you can pull out almost any indie music-brain from the city and trace their output, one exciting album to the next. So it is with Christian Simmons, who with his partner Anne-Lise Griffon, forms the duo Couleur Dessin. Together on the newest track from their debut album, they experiment their way through accidental triumphs with the same discord and disorderly glee they brought to earlier bands like PHERN and Sheer Agony, though with a distinctly different approach. Foregoing the hyperactive guitar pop that squealed on PHERN’s Cool Coma, the couple layers collections of harmonized voice with garaged multi-instrumental loops. Finding its way almost entirely through the duo’s chemistry and harmonious serendipities, rolling alongside Lynchian visuals - tape recordings of light, disembodied hands playing the keys backwards - “Traveling with Rocks” expresses less prose and more feelings on confusion and wonder while the band’s concrete pop songs are allowed to dissolve.

Christian Simmons on "Traveling with Rocks":

"I think this is probably our favourite song on the album. It's certainly among the most collaborative, which may be part of why we like it. The basic musical idea is from a voice memo, recorded while walking, of a bass part that at the time seemed kind of "punk". Without listening to that voice memo, I recorded some toms and shakers, imagining something that might more or less go along with the tempo and feel of the bass part. Then a while later, I tried two takes of playing the bass part, both of which were left in the final version. 

Several months later I woke up with an idea of a sort of melody and tried to hum it into my phone. I think I labeled that 'USA Mac' because I guess it reminded me of The United States of America, or Fleetwood Mac. I went and tried to fit a piano part along with the stuff that was already on the tape. Anne-Lise came by the studio while I was doing that, and added some spooky organ and another Wurlitzer part, and we worked the lyrics together, mostly from bits Anne-Lise had jotted down in a little book, and recorded them on the spot. We don't like to put too fine a point on song explanations. It's nice when people have their own interpretation of a song and we like to leave things open ended when possible. But, this song is loosely about comparing our own (relatively comfortable) life to other lives we were seeing and hearing about, mostly on the news. For the video, we found some footage of a ferry crossing we did in Quebec City one winter, and this closeup of a flashing light that we thought looked pretty interesting. I guess we opted to balance out the feeling of the song with a video that is almost its opposite."


Listen to Couleur Dessin on bandcamp.


Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl or online at elifosl.com.