How do we speak about musical style without hyphens, dashes and slashes? If too many words are needed to describe a style, would none be better? So Sorry Records encourages us to think about this and just listen. The artists of this Ottawa-centric label provide a space where words should only describe impressions, not categorize music.
So Sorry Records is a local imprint of the New York, Rotterdam and Ottawa label Pop Drone Records. Though Pop Drone explores “off centre music”, the artists of the label featured on So Sorry (Pony Girl, Bosveld, Owen Davies) are off enough of this off-centre as create a whole other centre. The result is an Ottawa-focused genre bending, dissolving, and merging music. You can decide for yourself what the style should or shouldn’t be called, or avoid this common reaction entirely.
Listening to the So Sorry Sampler, you are swept into a border between the future and now. The instruments are of this time but the soundscapes push our conventions. The tracks are thick with submerged vocals as all three artists sing below the surface with gritty, murky voices. The songs seem painted in watercolours with layers that fall into and out of each other in a way that’s understated and foggy yet exact enough to give us a focal point.
Ottawa band Pony Girl takes us to shallow water and leads us wading. We can decide for ourselves if we’re under bright sunlight, or above the reflection of an evening city. Are we amongst trees or buildings, above earth or concrete? The music lets us decide. It catches and scatters and hooks and throws us all at once.
Bosveld shows a range of elusive sounds and textures of the future. The track “Back of Yr Mind”, on the So Sorry Sampler, from their album Veldbrand, presents a healthy dose of the contemporary tinged with Otherness. They give us complex and subtle layers of the androidic and organic on their Catalysts Mixtape. Again, subterranean vocals float just below a surface rich with unique and buzzing delicate tones flowing in variegated rhythms. Listen again and again. There is always something else in the static of their future waiting to be found.
Owen Davies gives us “Mystic”. Like his fellow So Sorryans, Davies gives us distant vocals of the future under rather than over dynamic and many-layered instrumentation. His voice moves subtly through caverns and tunnels of light, dark, or multi-coloured sounds. It’s electronic, full of computations and modulations, but so human in its delivery. He wields the technology of the now and future, bringing us along into the brain and blood madness of daily life. And you listen and listen and go curiously forward. The album’s a path full of landscapes and dark corners. There’s so much that one or a hundred journeys are not enough.
So Sorry Records are providing a context for dissolving musical borders. They’re musicians crafting songs in our contemporary world with a foot in the now and a foot confidently falling into the future. There’s a window open with links to listen to the music, but there’s also a chance to open the door and step inside. The door is there. Come in, please come in.
Ottawa band High Waters will be joining So Sorry’s Bosveld, who are kicking off their second bike tour, and headliner Owen Davies, who will be releasing his album Mystic, on Saturday, August 1st at The Black Sheep Inn. (Doors 8:30, tickets $10 in advance).