I competed a short speed set this morning consisting of a 20 x 50m set which, by itself, is no big whoop really. But when you consider that my focus has been primarily on distance over speed leading up to next weekend’s Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids, well, let’s just say it was something I found relatively challenging. This evening then I’m only coaching a high-intensity Brick class so beforehand, I’m spending some time on the mat in the corner of the gym doing some slow yoga stretching and core work to some primo tunes a la Canadiana, specifically, the ‘Vieux Loup‘ album by the Ottawa-based group The Acorn.
The Acorn is the project of Ottawa-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rolf Klausener.
I love the name Rolf, by the way.
It reminds me of this guy:
And how can you not get excited about a piano playing dog?
But Klausener is a far cry from being a mere muppet. With music spanning multiple genres, from minimal electro and art folk, Klausener has helped establish The Acorn as one of Canada’s most enduring musical acts of the last decade – although it is likely that you have never heard of them, like, ever. I know I hadn’t until the appeared on one of my USB swaps (Thanks again, Dan!). And even then, when I saw it I was all like, “what kind of name is that?”
I mean, really, The Acorn?
But it was exactly 30minutes, the perfect length for this particular workout and it is a band on the Paper Bag Records roster so, yeah, I’ll give it a shot anyway. Oh, and, of course, I trust Dan’s taste in music implicitly.
Anyway, At its heart lies Klausener’s vivid songwriting and esoteric production. The genesis for this album began back in 2014, when Rolf unearthed three years worth of writing, taking on a slew of forms from dark electro soul, to minimalist dirge folk. The recordings then found their way on this album released last year – their first release in five years.
The album’s eight songs are framed by intimate acoustic guitar and vocals, and feature subtle production tricks and textures. Klausener’s arrangements here are impressive, paying attention to space and dynamics, and letting the instruments breathe clearly in the mix while still leaving room for experimentation. Standouts ‘Palm Springs‘ and ‘Influence‘ both feature low-slung disco beats and breathy and echo-shrouded vocals along with post-rock guitar trickery. ‘Influence‘ in particular has deep bass pulses and eerie electronic tones shifted off to the right speaker, catching the listener off guard if listening on headphones – which I am. This isn’t usually my cut of tea I admit but, hey, this is some good shit. There’s no denying it. In fact, there’s almost an Eno-esque quality to some of these tracks which makes it very appealing. For example, ‘In Silence‘ begins as a soft, ambient-folk lullaby, then abruptly cuts into crashing, distorted drums and ghostly background vocals for a few measures during the song’s bridge before returning to its calm, meditative state.
Then there’s the male/female vocal duet ‘Dominion‘ which is the album’s most rousing folk-rock tune, but it still has an ethereal, forest-like feel, with lush instrumentation outfitting its serenely driving rhythm and vocal harmonies.
And with this short and sweet stretch in the bag, it’s time to bring the thunder to the 4 willing
victims participants over 90 minutes of high-interval Bricky goodness. So in that regard, you could consider this album as the calm before the storm.