Canadian musicians and partners Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas spend their summers traveling over 2,000 miles from their home in Montreal to their trailer on the shores of Besnard Lake. Set deep in rural Saskatchewan 500 miles from the Montana border, Besnard Lake lies in a beautiful forested country pockmarked by deep blue lakes. It’s here that the partners find reprieve and harvest ideas for their creations. For over 10 years they have carried toothpick structures of inspiration back to Breakglass Studios in Montreal, a studio co-founded by Lasek, to write and record as indie-rock group The Besnard Lakes.
On A Coliseum Complex Museum, which is their fifth full-length release and fourth on the indie haven of a label Jagjaguwar, they’re joined by long time contributors to the group guitarist Richard White and drummer Kevin Laing. After Richard White stopped touring with the group in 2014 and focused his energy on being in the studio, keyboardist Shennah Ko and guitarist Robbie MacArthur joined.
Thematically, lyrically, musically, A Coliseum Complex Museum is expansive. It explores concepts of the paranormal variety (Lasek was a self-starting paranormal investigator in high school), of the energy that nature gives you, and the significance of sigils through Goreas’ “domestic interpretation of the occult.” The group is unafraid to bring thematic variety into their creative process with moxie.
Expanding on the themes of nature in an interview on Jagjaguwar, Lasek said, “For a long time we were trying to keep secret that we love being out in nature…because it’s kinda cliché. But with this record we decided to stop fighting what we love so much. So the front cover actually has a lake on it, but it’s also got this giant orb shooting light into the water, which is creating a hole that’s opening a portal to the coliseum complex museum. It’s kinda f*cked.”
Just as vast as A Coliseum Complex Museum‘s thematic matter are the meticulously crafted sounds. The Besnard Lakes blend grungy with country, ambient with heavy rock, the list goes on. It requires a keen, attentive listen; the album is quite amalgamated. Many things stand out though, particularly the guitar on the closing track “Tungsten 4: The Refugee.” It’s Zeppelin-esque and energetic.
Another notable aspect of this album’s construction is the sounds that are looped back in track after track, like the call and return of melodies in “Golden Lion” that are recreated in the following track, “Pressure of Our Plans.” While sometimes overwhelming, and often times hard to pick out of the mix if you aren’t listening in headphones or a really great pair of speakers, the musical details of this album are key to making it so memorable.
Recommended If You Like: Land Of Talk, Arcade Fire, Wye Oak, The New Pornographers, Lower Dens, Deerhunter, Tame Impala
Recommended Tracks: 8 (Tungsten 4: The Refugee), 3 (Pressure of Our Plans), 2 (Golden Lion)