Archive of Category ‘Uncategorized‘

 
 

Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs still getting ink

28. May 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

DAVID REED: An audiophile’s dream

By David Reed, Belleville Intelligencer

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 12:52:09 EDT PM

Lori Cullen – Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs

(True North Records, 2016)

Kurt Swinghammer and Ron Sexsmith have been friends for decades and the two decided to co-write an album of songs for Lori Cullen to sing. Her exceptional voice delivers and interprets the twelve songs with such sincerity that one could easily believe that she wrote them herself. She drifts and floats effortlessly through challenging melodies and complex chord changes like a butterfly in a colourful garden, and Swinghammer has planted a sonic garden beyond compare.

Known as a gifted composer and recording artist, Kurt Swinghammer channels elements of Burt Bacharach (a confessed hero), Brian Eno and Antonio Carlos Jobim – all the while staying completely original. The extensive instrument list includes guitar, piano, bass, rhodes, wurlitzer, B3, omnichord, string machine, vibraphone, marimba, clarinet, English horn, bass clarinet, trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, harmonica and percussion…plus some stunning backing vocals by Mia Sheard and Jen Foster.

Listeners looking to challenge their ears beyond mainstream formula pop would be well-advised to seek out Swinghammer’s complete catalogue. I am particularly obsessed with Another Another (2017), Turpentine Wind (2011) and his great masterpiece, Vostok 6 (1999).

Ron Sexsmith is a respected singer-songwriter with sixteen albums to his credit and a loyal fan base that includes Paul McCartney, Elton John, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Ray Davies and Chris Martin. His lyrics are often described as “melancholic” and poetic. Those who are unfamiliar with Sexsmith’s work should start with Blue Boy (2001), Cobblestone Runway (2002) and Exit Strategy of the Soul (2008).

For this record, Sexsmith has crafted some of his finest lyrics. Throughout the songs he has woven references to gardens, trees, plants, colours, sunlight, stars, rain and water. The songs truly feel like a suite of connected stories.

The convergence of prowess between Sexsmith and Swinghammer creates a magical collection of songs for Lori Cullen to make her own. While I’m aware that some readers may easily bore with comparative analysis, I can’t help but comment on the Joni Mitchell moments that creep up in certain songs. Cullen’s voice has an ethereal clarity in the upper range that any good Canadian would likely compare to Mitchell.

Some Part of Me almost sounds like a Carpenters song but the chord changes are more unexpected and the melody takes some pleasantly unpredictable twists. This song is curiously compelling.

Off Somewhere is a duet with Ron Sexsmith (his only appearance on the album). The lyrics are timeless and thoughtful, with the lines “memories I’ll unpack in time / retrace the pages of my life / for now I refuse ‘cause I’m off somewhere / you are on my mind.” Cullen and Sexsmith drift in and out of harmony like characters in a story, their melodies interwoven with love.

Other highlights include Miracle Home, This Morning, Something Right, Strange is This Life, and True.

I would be negligent if I did not praise the sound of this album. The production is pristine and the mix is stunning. Maury Lafoy produced and David Travers-Smith mixed and mastered. This is one of the best-sounding records I have ever heard, especially on good headphones. Rawcus Magazine called it “an audiophile’s dream.” That is a perfect summary.

War Racket wins Best Music Video Award

19. May 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Swinghammer’s animated video for Buffy Sainte-Marie’s track War Racket won at the Indigenous Music Awards, held in Winnipeg, May 2018.

Meanwhile Out On Hudson Bay

25. April 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Solo exhibition of a new series of paintings called “Melt”, on display at the Niagara Artists Centre, 354 St Paul Street, St. Catharines. Opening reception April 27, 8-9pm. Show is up for one month.

New Review of Swinghammer’s Another Another album

23. March 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

DAVID REED: Add this to your collection

By David Reed, Belleville Intelligencer

Thursday, March 15, 2018 3:39:38 EDT PM

Another Another – Kurt Swinghammer

(Cultural Engineering, 2017)

In the liner notes to this latest offering, Toronto musician Kurt Swinghammer reveals that “Brian Eno’s Another Green World and Music For Airports have been two of my favourite albums since they were released in the mid 70s.” Upon reading that I immediately took some time and listened to those two wonderful records again before sitting down to experience Another Another. These three albums make a compelling listening trilogy, and good headphones are essential.

The creation of this record was influenced by Swinghammer’s stint as the very first artist in residence at the National Music Centre in Calgary. Daniel Lanois and Kid Koala have also held the same honour. While working at the NMC, Swinghammer was able to “access their incredible collection of rare electronic gear…to explore the Ondes Martinot (1928), Novachord (‘39), Clavioline (‘47), and Raymond Scott Clavinox (‘52)” as well as a Mellotron, Wurlitzer, Optigon and two dozen other instruments.

Admittedly, I had to look up a few of them but suffice it to say that these early synthesizers are groundbreaking and unique in their sonic palettes. Swinghammer manages to deftly integrate a plethora of sounds while maintaining a focus and balance that never sounds cluttered. The album is truly a sonic journey of exploration that doesn’t sound like anything else.

Most of the lyrics on the album were written shortly after the death of his mother, and Swinghammer presents the listener with an intimate sonic photo album.

On the track Jack Layton and Grace Appleton, Swinghammer tells the story of how his mother died on the same day as Jack Layton, and draws honest and touching comparisons of character, hope and influence.

Song About an Instrumental describes how Swinghammer chose to play Music For Airports in the chapel to create a calming ambience during his father’s funeral and how his mother mentioned the “unusual music on the stereo.”

Dear Old Soul shares his mother’s love of gardening and describes her yard as “a symphony of photosynthesis, her flowers were switched on in psychedelic bliss.” Swinghammer goes on to tell of spreading his mother’s ashes in the garden as “Mother go to Mother Earth, back to the ground” and then she rises in the springtime with the flowers. It is a touching moment.

She Needed More Loops is a slowly-evolving revelation of language, exposed in tiny parts and looped for nearly a minute before the body of the song kicks in. It is curiously compelling from start to finish.

Another has some spacey Latin overtones and waves of vocal harmony atop the synthesizer soundscapes.

There are two instrumental tracks that are particularly meditative and Eno-like. Pickering and 1919 both shimmer and blossom in ways that beg for repeated listening (again, with headphones).

The Random House closes the record with Swinghammer reading/singing a series of synonyms for “grace” (his mother’s name) as found in a thesaurus, through a vocoder. The result is simple yet profound.

Of particular interest is the series of animated videos Swinghammer created for each song on the record. Get onto youtube and check out all of the videos and then purchase a copy of Another Another.

This is a very special record that belongs in your collection.

Loon #6 by Swinghammer

19. March 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Recently put on display at INabstracto, 1160 Queen St W, Toronto. Between The Gladstone Hotel and The Drake.  48″ x 48″, acrylic on canvas. Signed and dated on the back.

Red Canoe #39 by Swinghammer

19. March 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Recently put on display at INabstracto, 1160 Queen St W, Toronto. Between The Gladstone Hotel and The Drake.  48″ x 48″, acrylic on canvas. Signed and dated on the back.

Communism is Live

20. February 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

The power dance rock trio Communism featuring Kevin Lacroix, Don Kerr and Swinghammer (seen here at last summer’s Hillside Festival), has a bunch of Toronto gigs coming up.

Sunday Feb 25, 4-7pm at Castro’s in the Beaches. PWYC.
Friday, March 23, 6-8pm, at The Cameron, Queen West PWYC
Saturday, March 31, 9-11pm, at Castro’s in the Beaches. PWYC.
Friday, April 6, 6-8pm, at The Cameron, Queen West PWYC
Friday, April 13, 6-8pm, at The Cameron, Queen West PWYC
Friday, April 20, 6-8pm, at The Cameron, Queen West PWYC
Saturday, April 28, 9-11pm, at Castro’s in the Beaches. PWYC.

Swinghammer’s new video for Buffy Sainte-Marie

20. February 2018 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

War Racket by Buffy Sainte-Marie from her Juno nominated album Medicine Songs on True North Records. Animation by Kurt Swinghammer.

Cockburn Gets Swinghammered

29. November 2017 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

Kurt created the animated video for “Stab At Matter” from Bruce Cockburn’s latest album on True North.

Waltz For Wilf – new video

02. August 2017 • Category: Uncategorized • Comments: 0

From the “Another Another” CD. Written and performed by Kurt Swinghammer. Recorded at The National Music Centre, Calgary. Mixed by Michael Phillip Wojewoda. Mastered by Joao Carvalho. Video by Kurt Swinghammer.