Travis Murphy is a visual artist, and song-writer living in Toronto.
Åland is a project pieced together over the last few years from studio sessions, DIY enterprises and experimental sound recordings culminating in his first full-length recording. Åland is a sundry expanse of word and sound. In its opening tracks, a dry vocal delivery and the artist’s own brand of scholarly pessimism eventually gives way to lush pop orchestration, songs of love and longing, post-rock-infused soundscapes and the simplicity of folk structures.
As formalism diverges from track to track, so too does the content. From the despair of Iron Curtain-era poisoning of Romania’s Copsa Mica, to the use of a seminal “moon obscured by raincloud” cinematic Japanese masterwork (Ugetsu), to a song contemplating slaughter for both provision and offering, the thrust of Åland’s lyrical weight is tempered with wry humour and grace.
The artist’s voice opens up on Greenblack, as a historico-political narrative drives an aching delivery, under a crescendo of thundering free-jazz percussion and wavering tremolo of the saw. A dense, sonic astronomer’s love spat, and fuzzed folk-rock protestation continue the lyrical assault. A closing country ghost ballad, and final experimental noise poem conclude the full length album. Åland is a considered project whose artwork, design, emotional cool and heat, all invoke an erudite thoughtfulness where the scope of its over-arching project meets a deft touch in the terrain of its minutia.
Illustration by Lolo Desrosiers-Guite