Official album art from The Slideshow Effect.
There’s something to be said about the connection between sound and thought, and for emerging act, Memoryhouse, it’s a bondage of eternal exploration. The dream pop duo from Canada makes their debut this week with the album, The Slideshow Effect, released by Sub Pop Records, a fantastical take on life through a lens of the past and the vantage of a storyteller. Because, essentially, that’s how the band came to be and also what their music personifies. It all began with a composer itching for more and a multimedia expert with nothing to lose. Together, they decided, why not make music?
“When I first heard Denise sing, I knew there was so much potential there and got really excited about the possibility,” recalls Evan Abeele of his counterpart in Memoryhouse, Denise Nouvion. “She’d only done mostly ambient music and hadn’t sung very much so was hesitant, but we started writing songs together and it just felt right.”
The bridge from traditional to contemporary was the first focus for Abeele, a trained classical composer. Pop music is structurally meant to be more of an “immediate catch,” compared to his personal forte, driven by “slow burning mood and atmosphere,” so he had to devise away to meld one with the other. Even more off the limb, Nouvien was working in photography and filmmaking before getting pulled into music, so it was a learning curve on her end as well. Abeele remembers, at the time, he’d been considering how to make use of his English degree when at last he determined music was the sole route to forever.
“For me, memory is looking inward to find some understanding of where you are,” he comments. “The past has a bearing on who you are and will be, and where you will be going at a time… I had originally chosen a path in music and didn’t know if it had any viable options, so I let go of the idea for some time, and ended up pursuing more schooling. Then, I figured I’d maybe become a professor in the next few years, but I preferred the option music had once presented.”
Feeling the tug of age and security – though both are only in their early 20s – both artists decided music could offer lasting potential. In their songs, they explore themes like aging with grace, and inhabiting a sense of time in life. Memoryhouse is, thus, about a transition from the advent of adulthood to monotony of routine, and the precipice of realization when you understand your childhood dreams might never come to fruition. For this band, nevertheless, they did.
Aesthetically, Memoryhouse stands out from every other indie rock-meets-pop band attempting to ride the trending surf in that its core is rich in traditional composition. Furthermore, the postmodern, creative souls prefer to record with a live band in the studio, bringing an organic feel to the more ethereal style of the synth and vocals layered on top. A fanciful take on wonderland and mysticism, there’s something spiritual about the way Memoryhouse traverses time with its melodies, as if stuck in a continuum yet content to drift on what circular waves exist within it. The vocals are angelic at times, a sorceress at others. The music is enchanting and fresh, a nice balance between Abeele’s more temporal compositions and the duo’s experimental play on effects.
“I like the idea that music has a story,” says Abeele. “We’re always trying to paint an image without explicitly expressing it through lyrics… Pop music is, in some ways, not as challenging because you speak your mind through vocals, but there’s less nuance.”
The group’s preceding material leaned more towards electronic music, as they didn’t have a drummer. After two years of writing and touring however, they’ve incorporated a lot of new elements into their work, striving for a natural, more matured sense of pop menagerie. Their goals for the year are to connect people to their work, sightsee during the European leg of their tour, and hang out with Beyoncé, if possible (maybe Blue Ivy too?).
Being inherently visual, they feel their music might complement a Tarantino flick best –something kind of “fun and surfy” – and their most favorite memory of all is catching frogs in the pond during their youth.
“I have a bias to the old method of memory capture,” says Abeele. “I prefer the idea of a photograph, a physical memento or totem to remind you… The more we go into this tech cloud, we lose things in translation.”
In other words, buy the real album (it comes with a bunch of other memories too).