Torngat is a formidable trio hailing from the fertile and diverse musical community of Montreal. Up until now the band has enjoyed success in a few key cities, but with You Could Be things are about to change. Although this is the band’s third recording, a follow up to 2005’s stellar La Rouge EP, it is their first full-length as a trio (their first CD was recorded as a quartet in 2002). The band has managed to sell through multiple pressings of their previous two recordings despite the fact that they were self-released, thanks in part to their extensive touring.
Torngat is an instrumental trio made up primarily of drums, keyboards and French horn, although it is the multi-instrumentalism of all three players that really gives Torngat that spark of something special. Julien Poissant is the band’s drummer but also plays a variety of instruments on the album; in a live setting he can be found simultaneously playing extra keys with the left hand, bass drum with the right foot, high hat with the left foot and trumpet with the right hand. Wurlitzer and analog synth are Mathieu Charboneau’s primary tools, but he is also known to juggle duties with xylophones, percussion, trumpet, melodicas, additional keyboards and live electronic effects. French horn player Pietro Amato seasoned his chops performing with Bell Orchestre and has toured and recorded with Arcade Fire. Amato also contributes a host of other acoustic and electronic instrumentation as well as some vocals to the album.
Torngat performs music that could be construed as post rock; like much of the genre they exude a strong cinematic quality. However, the music of Torngat is less dark and melancholic than most post rock, sounding closer to what could be called chamber pop. Instead of doom and gloom, the band delivers uplifting melodies and childlike fantasy inspired passages, yet still manages to infuse their songs with a certain emotional weight. The music evokes visions similar to those of Tom Waits, early Penguin Cafe Orchestra and fellow Canadian songsmith Patrick Watson (with whom Torngat has collaborated on a recording for CBC’s Fuse).
You Could Be offers 12 instrumental selections that gently take the listener on a whimsical journey that is at times contemplative, but overall gives the feeling of hope and possibility. The record has been impeccably recorded and mixed by Marcus Paquin. Like all recordings by Torngat, You Could Be was recorded in the country allowing the opportunity for the band to focus on creativity without distraction. The album has a distinct 70s feel, incredibly warm and lush with a very nice bottom end. Standout pieces include Bordeaux Boredom, which has a wonderful hook made up of French horn and the beautiful interplay of colorful keys and light percussion further shape the piece. Suite c) l’Océan, la nuit is a fine example of the balance of feelings that breathe through much of the recording, not necessarily happy or sad, but contentment found somewhere in between. Celebrating New is without a doubt one of the album’s stellar tracks. More upbeat, it brings the listener’s spirits up and nicely rounds out the journey taken on You Could Be.
Torngat will tour heavily in support of the release, and a video is currently in the works.