A lot can change in a year. Toronto ambient music duo Snowday know this well. After releasing their debut album As We Travel last November, the band hit the road on a cross country tour playing any venue they could in hopes of getting their unique sound to the people. Their efforts were rewarded when young Vancouver music label Hybridity, perhaps best known for its work with the popular Electro-pop duo Humans, expressed interest in the band. Hybridity offered some financial and management assistance giving the band a chance to focus more on their sophomore release. Long time friends Cam Sloan and Chad Skinner used the money for new recording equipment and to purchase a studio space in Toronto’s west end where they now live.
Evoke walks away from the use of field recordings and midi tracks used on As We Travel and aims to illicit deep feelings through the use of deeply dark synthesizer, shiny acoustic guitar and heart-pounding grand piano. It all starts with “Ceremony”, which feels like the soundtrack to a dance around a large bonfire. The track starts with a tinny synthesizer and regular cymbal crashes that end out each phrase. From there the music continues to grow as snare and bass foot drums kick into the mix.
“Detour” is the next of the album’s five tracks and is led by solid violin work courtesy of honorary band member Jesse Lyon. In this song, Snowday utilize some field recordings and shows off what they did so well on their previous release. “Detour” is subject to a running river as background noise that is sure to evoke the feelings associated with walking on a forest path alongside a tiny stream. Coming in at six minutes and two seconds, this song is akin to one of those long detours that often greet you on your drive into work. However its calming sounds will likely prevent road rage.
The album’s title track lives up to its name through the use of two or three notes on grand piano during each musical phrase. This effectively creates a cadence that lulls you then forces you to feel its emotion.
If “Evoke” brought peace through its rest spacing and two note cadence, “Patterns” quickly breaks that peace. The song is full of noises. Instead of restful, the grand piano is now constant. Pick slides on acoustic guitar come into the mix as synthesizer and percussion add a tiny bit of life to the mix. Around a minute thirty into the song, airy Dreampop vocals blow into the mix like a wind through hair. “Patterns” is without a doubt Evoke’s top track feeling almost like a dream where everything comes together in harmony for a short time. While listening to this song, I closed my eyes and was met with visions of dancing with the girl of my dreams in a quiet field, until the harmony gave way to silence and erratic piano that almost warps the song collapsed the dream as if waking up. Suddenly the girl was walking away from me and the vision was falling apart.
The album ends with the aptly titled “Her Day Ended Slowly”. At six minutes and forty-two seconds, the album’s longest song slowly builds into a symphony that has no trouble replicating the feeling of a particularly long day. The melodic nature of the song is repetitive, which helps reinforce just how slowly the woman’s day ended.
Evoke is a twenty-five minute look into the fantastic things still to come from this young Toronto band, now that they’ve found a home and a label. The album is on par with its predecessor and continues to build on the deep feelings the previous material evoked.
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke