Latest release

Unessential Oils

Released on May 31, 2024

Unessential Oils is a search for something authentic. Bits and pieces of Warren Spicer’s life’s traumas and weaknesses, successes and breakthroughs, moments of clarity and enlightenment mixed with the mundane and menial. The weight of grief and anger imposed on the joy and ecstatic freedom of new life. “The process was the therapy of working through, the result is more a document than construction, it’s what happened, not what I made happen,” he says.

Warren is widely known as the front-person for Montreal band Plants and Animals and as a producer, engineer and mixer (La Force, Comment Debord, Ludovic Alarie). This is his first solo record, an opportunity to take his collective experience and focus on a singular vision.

The result is an album that’s somewhat like a jazz record in that it’s about the musicians’ performances. Many of the songs are quite minimal in terms of songwriting, but the execution and the playing are very adventurous with room for embellishment and playing around. The songs are filled with small patterns that loop again and again, and the musicians were encouraged to play whatever they want, to react to the music and to each other. The mics were turned up loud and everyone played quietly, complementing Warren’s vocals, which are more conversational in terms of range and volume, almost under-sung. The four backup singers are singing in unison – a hat tip to the backing-vocal style in Brazilian Tropicalía records – gently enveloping the lead vocals.

This isn’t a cerebral record, it’s an emotional one.

Unessential Oils was created with co-producer and keyboardist Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux (Chocolat, Organ Mood, Lesser Evil), bassist Miska Stein (Patrick Watson, Teke Teke, Fhang) and drummer Tommy Crane (Aaron Parks, Martha Wainwright). Tommy’s drumming was crucial to realizing a lot of jazz possibilities on the album. When percussionist Martin Dicham (Sade, Talk Talk, Mark Hollis, Tina Turner) joined the project it was the final piece in the puzzle that let the songs take their full shape. His percussion arrangements and his distinctive Martin Dicham sound helped define the songs in this strongly percussive album.