IN THE FOOTHILLS of the Canadian Rockies, the city of Calgary sits unassumingly. It’s a bigger city than you might guess, with a population over a million strong, but in spite of—or perhaps because of—its isolation, the city is home to a small but wildly creative music scene. There, Chad VanGaalen, whose music runs the gamut from banjo folk to bitsynth mindfuckery, rubs shoulders with the boys from Women, a group equally adept at writing pop songs and noise freakouts. But it’s the glitchy, ravishing music of Azeda Booth that stands out as the most individualistic within the Calgary scene.
The band began as a collaboration between Morgan Greenwood and Jordon Hossack. “It was just me and Jordon sitting up in my room until 5 am, recording crazy shit,” says Greenwood. The band swelled to five, then six members, including a couple guys from the aforementioned Women, but following the completion of last year’s In Flesh Tones album, Azeda Booth slimmed down to a trio—Greenwood, Hossack, and Marc Rimmer—and have just embarked on the band’s first US tour.
“We’ll deconstruct the songs and figure out how to play them live,” says Rimmer. “We’re using a lot of the same synth sounds now, and samples and stuff like that, so it sounds like it does live. We’ve learned more ways to appreciate what everyone else is doing.”
In Flesh Tones is one of those miraculous marriages of man and machine, where the organic meets the synthetic in dizzying fusion. Without getting too cockeyed about it—and just bear with me for a moment here—it’s the sounds of the first sprigs of life sprouting from an abandoned city-planet, a few millennia after the robot apocalypse. “In Red” begins with the distant throb of a steel structure shifting in its resting place with a sound that’s both melodic and percussive; gentle guitars and bell-like synths circle around its foundation as Hossack’s childlike falsetto cracks with humanity. The song comes to a lull, but Azeda Booth has a cinematic climax up its sleeve, and crashing drums and insect-like clicks chatter through its ascending chord progression. A million years seem to breathlessly pass in its five-and-a-half minutes.
“We all really like texturing something until it sounds full,” says Hossack. “By whatever means it takes to achieve that, and we all just really like sweet sounds, so….”
The band has just released a new EP, Tubtrek, which is now available as a free download on their website. Hossack’s distinct falsetto is notably absent from the new tracks, a trademark that originated as a way for the young band to sound unique, but has already outgrown. “I felt limited in the way I wanted to express myself,” Hossack says of the change. “I was limiting myself in a way, not allowing myself to convey a full range emotion from that range. [With Tubtrek] we wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were a three-piece again, and just start fresh with resources we have.”
Greenwood says, “The funny thing about that is, Jordon and I, this is still our first band and we still can’t even jam. We don’t even know notes. Watching us practice is like pulling... ass,” he laughs. “But from the get-go we had this vision. We just want to write stuff. And that’s all we could do. Once we got one glimpse of that, it was like, ‘Okay!’ and we still haven’t turned back.”