Over at Stay Loose’s Soundcloud page they are now streaming the opening track ‘Orono Park’ from the band’s current album ‘When You Left The Fire’.
‘When You Left The Fire’ is a stunning record. Recorded in the depths on winter in a Toronto church and a basement at the band’s house, it both chronicles the isolation of Ontario during the winter months and serves as a beautiful antidote to it.
THE WILDERNESS OF MANITOBA
Though now racking up accolades far and wide, The Wilderness of Manitoba started as yet another side project in the fertile Toronto music community. To understand The Wilderness of Manitoba, you have to go to a music-filled house in Canada. Long before the chamber folk band got rolling, the property hosted concerts by local artists in addition to being where both Scott Bouwmeester and Will Whitwham laid their heads and practiced with previous bands. It’s also where the singing multi-instrumentalists both began writing songs that seemed to demand a new configuration. After enlisting Stefan Banjevic, another singing multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Melissa Dalton, The Wilderness of Manitoba was born. As the band received more and more attention, they added drummer Sean Lancaric to flesh out the sound.
In the beginning, they all lived under one roof and recorded in their basement studio. Something special happened when the four members of the Wilderness of Manitoba sang together. As Bouwmeester puts it, “In other bands you build songs from the bottom up, where all the instruments fall into place and the vocal line is on top of that. But with us, it’s top down. The melodies and the vocals are all set, and then the instrumentation just trickles down, and you fill holes or fill spaces as needed.” Due to the band’s distinctive musical approach, it’s no surprise that their timeless sound found early supporters in Canada, the UK and the U.S. They have played the End of the Road Festival, the Camden Crawl in London and toured the UK. Their album, When You Left The Fire, was released in the U.S. on May 10th and they have toured there with Cloud Cult, Rasputina and Aimee Mann.
The starting point is folk, but, once cello, banjo, lap steel and other textures are added, the songs end up in a haunted, unclassifiable place. “We’re really into sounds,” notes Banjevic, “and I think that, even using cellos or violins or singing bowls, they serve little tiny roles that complement what’s going on perfectly.” Recorded in the dead of a Toronto winter in a church and the basement of the band’s house, as an artistic work, When You Left The Fire both chronicles isolation and serves as an antidote to it. Its subtle, ambient presence tells you all you need to know about this band—simultaneously able to evoke stunning, bittersweet beauty in multi-part vocal arrangements and just the right instrumental touches, yet casual enough (and smart enough) not to insist on airless, lifeless precision in how it goes about its business. “This record is a time capsule,” Whitwham notes. “You know, captured moments. The songs are fun to play because they bring you back to a specific time and place. I think true art captures emotions, or relays emotions. And if we can do that, if we’re doing that, I’m satisfied.”