Was I the Wave? is the long-awaited sophomore offering from Montreal musician and producer Miracle Fortress (Graham Van Pelt). Miracle Fortress gained international recognition in 2007 for his debut album Five Roses, a unique collection of psychedelic shoegazey-pop that garnered high praise from numerous outlets. The Guardian gave it five stars and called it “gorgeous from start to finish,” Spin proclaimed “Montreal’s latest revelation is a pure pop pick me up” with four stars; and the Montreal Gazette called it “an indie-rock / synth-pop masterpiece,” bestowing five stars. Indeed, it became a much-loved record with something of a cult-following, for those in the know.
Though Van Pelt has been busy since the release of Five Roses with his more extroverted band Think About Life, Miracle Fortress has been relatively quiet, until now. While it bears little stylistic resemblance to his debut, Was I the Wave? is in some ways a similar offering, insofar as it takes us on a trip deep into Van Pelt’s unique musical mind. There’s not much of an argument for calling this record indie-rock—it’s essentially an electronic offering—but existing fans won’t find it too difficult to hear Van Pelt’s signature habit-forming hooks swimming among the big synths, and deep beats.
Like Five Roses, it was created in isolation from top-to-bottom, with Van Pelt serving as composer, arranger, performer, producer, and engineer. Taken as a product of his occasionally hermitic temperament, many of tracks here express themes of alienation, anonymity, or the desire for the assurances of intimacy. The record's first side keeps a deliberately crowded atmosphere, with moments of pressure, anxiety, and relief. The second side is more open and personal, as the production offers breathing room while the lyrics aspire to a more direct narrative of domestic comforts, or resistance to social overexposure. Was I The Wave? nevertheless functions as a running sequence, though the A and B sides respectively reflect the darker and lighter moods of Miracle Fortress. High volume and repeat listens recommended.
Miracle Fortress is thrilled to present his brand new music video for the epic Was I the Wave? cut, "Raw Spectacle". Premiered on IFC yesterday and directed by Emily Kai Bock and shot by Neal Rockwell, this short film-style video adds another layer of drama to the 2011 album track. Raw Spectacle is the third video offering since the album’s release, following Miscalculations, and B-side Possession.
As Graham Van Pelt explains: “We set out to create our own variation on the supernatural misfit story, without the trappings of CGI or indeed much of a budget whatsoever. Much toxic by-products were inhaled and minor burns were occasionally suffered, but we can say with pride that the result exceeded our own expectations.”
Rarely has electronic music come across as personal and from the heart as it does on Was I the Wave?
By the time we get to new single and album standout Miscalculations, there’s pummeling bass, splashy drums and a full-throttle laser show. Motoring.
The remix keeps the song's woozy vocals largely intact, but Pantha du Prince dials down the synths and inserts a steady techno pulse, creating a sort of Balearic pop tune that is undeniably pleasing to the ear.
“Part experimental-ambient and part 80s pop, Was I the Wave is all massive synth-scapes littered with electro beats, and Van Pelt’s dreamy wail towering above.”
“strange and beautiful … soaring melodies and moody, atmospheric sonic beds … filled with the kind of vocal and instrumental hooks you can't leave behind.”
"At the show, Van Pelt opted to offer up new tracks such as 'Miscalculations' and 'Everything Works' in a near-pitch black room, with only flickering laser lights outlining his body enough for the audience to see him. While that might have enraged photographers, it played to the strength of the throbbing beats and helped create a distinct mood for Van Pelt's newfound niche of late-night dance club soundtracks."
"Hella versatile. It was a party by the end of the set."
"Van Pelt and drummer just let the groove of his cerebral, bass-heavy "bedroom club" music do all the talking as a laser light show sprayed the ceiling and jaws dropped to the floor."
"This less-than-30-minute set offered us just a handful of the new tunes (including the stellar “Miscalculations,” which sounds like the hit Cut Copy never wrote)"
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