KEITH CANISIUS – THIS TIME IT’S OUR HIGH (DARLA, 2010)

As the four song EP Openness is Dreaminess & Everything in Between’s title would suggest Keith Canisius always had affinity for the psychedelics of the early 90’s shoegaze crowd. While pulling equally from the hushed vocal complexity of the Cocteau Twins and the divebomb guitars of Ride, it was clear that Canisius was crushing hard on the Madchester nouveau-hippie scene most notable for ludicrous amounts of MDMA, dressing like that dude from Jamiroquai and worshipping The Stone Roses. In that vein, Canisius gutted his already loosely arranged dream-pop numbers and tied them to song-spanning guitar solos and overall aggressive guitar work of paisley-smeared psychedelia.

That was so June, 2010. The Danish musician’s third full-length sutures the open-ended jamming of Openness is Dreaminess & Everything In Between (shoot me please if I have to type that again) to the warm, analogue effects-driven synth-pop of chillwave (shoot me again if I have to type that again in 2010) purveyors Small Black and CFCF with stunning resultsWhile this tendency to experiment with looser song structures, fluctuating tones and a general cluster-cuss of everything-all-the-time composition may sacrifice some of the bonafide singles qualities of previous works, Keith Canisius has never been more interesting to listen to. This album just sounds big.

While packing the front of the album full of his easier to digest pop numbers, Canisius doesn’t make accessing or absorbing TTIOH very easy. While it is easy to get the gist of each song, the general melody, palate, mood, etc… Canisius folds in layer after layer of slightly off-syncopated, multi-tracked vocals, buzzing shoegaze guitars, warm analogue synth washes and ping-ponging synths that reach a dizzying crescendo or maddening caucophony depending the mental state you are in to take it in. Careful listening reveals hidden vocal lines, glinting gems of new melodies or heady analogue warmness; listening to this as background music is grating, maddening even.  Woozy, drunken synths oscillate wildly beneath arching reverbed-out shoegaze guitar lines while somehow Canisius manages to sing his strange backwards-sung-forward chorus on top of the bridge at the exact same time. Imma make your head explode. Scanners style. But way more enjoyable. 

While effects driven, wobbly and underwater sounding enough, lumping Canisius into the snowed under genre of chillwave would make this too easy. Canisius doesn’t do anything easy. His name isn’t easy to spell, songs aren’t easy to track, but this time it’s all of our high. 

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