Label Year is a feature in which I purchase all of the releases of a given record label for an entire calendar year and post on each one. I will also look at other significant releases from the label's past. 2011 will be devoted to Arts & Crafts out of Toronto. For more info, check out the introduction.
- Artist: Eight and a Half
- Title: Scissors
- Format: Digital Single
- Release Date: 10/11/11
- Catalog Number: ACX072
It's perhaps a bit odd that it took so long for us to encounter Arts & Crafts' first release by a totally brand new band – not one making simply their A&C debut, but debuting, period – but here we are. The honor falls to Eight and a Half, a three piece ironically comprised of 2/3 A&C recording act the Stills (Liam O'Neil & Dave Hamelin) and 1/3 A&C flagship act Broken Social Scene (Justin Peroff). However, with the Stills broken up and Broken Social Scene at best on a long hiatus, Eight and a Half should not be thought of as a side project.
Opening with some light guitar strums, debut track "Scissors" quickly reveals itself to be electronic-based, slowly unfolding like an ocean sunrise. I hear this in the synths: the predawn darkness is the droning part, the bubbling part is the light waves, and the shimmery sounds are the first rays of light poking over the horizon. It takes well over a minute before the vocals come in, which offer an ethereal melody touched by a hint of melancholy. It's a mellow, trance-y sort of song to lost in, making me think the album will be a good headphone record. It's due out February 7, 2012.
I am not all too familiar with the Stills, but I do know and love Justin Peroff. I was surprised at how subdued his drumming is on the track. Up until the last minute of the song, the beat could hardly be more basic and takes a backseat to the voice and other instrumentation. It's a little difficult to process, considering how prominent and complex the drums are on Broken Social Scene records. But then I read that all of the members are challenging themselves to do things different than normal here, with Peroff exploring the deconstruction of his style. I appreciate that; I mean after all, why waste the opportunity of being in a new band to do the same things? The simple beat does serve the vibe of the song, so at this point I'm down and excited to hear more.
The digital single came with a remix of "Scissors" by TOKiMONSTA. It speeds up the tempo, adds a little extra shading of percussion, and moves the vocals deeper into the mix, making them more elusive. The neat thing is that some of the changes make the song more danceable – more friendly to a different context – but the song still retains its chill spirit. Not all remixes do that; sometimes you can't even find a trace of the original song.
You can download the songs via these SoundCloud links, plus there's another remix on the band's page (if you really want to buy them, here's a link to GalleryAC). Below the track is information on what's next and links to all the previous installments in the series.
Next on Label Year: The digital single "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?" by Zeus.
Previously on Label Year:
- Feist – Metals
- Dan Mangan – Oh Fortune
- This Book Is Broken: A Broken Social Scene Story
- Stars The Bedroom Demos
- Broken Social Scene Concert Review (9.8.11 @ Williamsburg Waterfront, Brooklyn, NY)
- Chilly Gonzales The Unspeakable Chilly Gonzales
- Zeus "Permanent Scar / The Darkness"
- Timber Timbre Creep On Creepin' On (+ "Black Water" / "Ferriswheel")
- Ra Ra Riot "Too Dramatic"
- Memphis Here Comes A City
- Chilly Gonzales "You Can Dance"
- Chikita Violenta Tre3s