Review: Season of Upheaval – Season of Upheaval (Makade Star, Sep 17)

As is the case for the beloved band that this tape is undeniably reminiscent of—New Zealand legends Surface of the Earth—the modest instrumental credit that simply reads “guitars” does not at all reflect the cavernous immensity of the music found within. To my knowledge this self-titled entry in the growing Makade Star catalog is the first release from the Winnipeg duo of Doreen Girard and Marie-France Hollier, but they’ve been performing live together since as early as 2017, and that casual familiarity that can only accrue in a long-term, lived-in creative collaboration is folded into the essence of the drones themselves. To play the guitar in this way is as much a spatial and even sculptural act as it is a musical one; we not only hear, but feel the humming waves of feedback as they hover between shuddering strings and speaker-screen, the exquisite dance of churning dissonance and cathartic overtone resolution, the massive waves of sunlight-infused distortion cresting but never curling. It would probably be a transcendent experience to stand between twin subwoofer stacks and feel the full,  crushing weight of this stuff, but I’ll settle for the more delicate beauty it takes on recorded form, at times rivaling that of the magnificent “Voyager.” There’s nothing better on an autumn afternoon.

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