Title: The Slideshow Effect
Record Label: Sub Po
Dream pop band Memoryhouse are following up their two EPs with an album entitled The Slideshow Effect. The Toronto based band consists of composer Evan Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion. The ten track album was produced by Abeele, with assistance from friend and occasional Memoryhouse bassist Barzin Hassani Rad. It sees the band’s transition from a bedroom recording project into a fully realized band. Influences include Emmylou Harris, Dusty Springfield and Fleetwood Mac.
The band’s name commemorates the work of German neo-classical composer and artist Max Richter, specifically his 2001 album Memoryhouse. Abeele has said “for me, in my musical development, there was a ‘before Memoryhouse’ and an ‘after Memoryhouse’. Hearing that fundamentally changed the way I approached composition.
I just wanted to pay tribute to that. I wanted to have that to ground us, wherever we took our own music.”
Nouvion explains their collaborative cross-media process, “We start with photos that we want to write around, to give us some kind of aesthetic grounding.” Abeele observes “When people think of music today, they try to compartmentalize it into different genres,” and “I think the sound we have right now fits ‘out’ of time, but,
obviously, is still ‘in’ our time. It’s something that could have happened many years ago, but it also sounds contemporary.”
“Little Expressionless Animals” is a sad sounding opener about time and loneliness, Nouvion’s soft clear voice pierces the backing vocals and strings, she sings; “And I can feel this place becoming what it never was, do we embrace the hours, ‘cos if we never lost one, one lonely resignation tethered to your thoughts”. Electric guitar opens “The Kids Were Wrong” which contrasts with the slower opener – the drums and rhythm are more apparent. Guitars are much more prominent in The Slideshow Effect than their other work, making the band sound more “All Out Wonder” has a child like feel with tinkering keys and Nouvion’s clear innocent voice. In fact, this album sees her voice in a much more prominent position that the previous EPs in which vocals were splashed with reverb. The result is feminine, intimate sounding songs shown in “All Out Wonder” and “Bonfire” especially. The songs sound more finished, but as a result are less dreamy and spacey than the songs like “Sleep Patterns” or “To the Lighthouse” from their first two EPs.
“Punctum” opens with the lyrics “It’s not enough to live your past through photographs”, in “Bonfire” Nouvion sings “I left your photo in this pool” perhaps a hint at Memoryhouse’s way of working, their continuing interest in the synthesis of the aural and the visual. And the songs, however lovely, seem to work better with visual aids – the videos and their pastel colours, slow moving images and nostalgic essence make the chords, strings and vocals work that little bit more effectively. This album is dream pop with an indie rock edge.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.