WHOOP-Szo, Citizens Ban(ne)d Radio

WHOOP-Szo, scrappy little band of my heart (Frozen North division) has released a new record, which, like previous efforts, is a multi-layered and -textured piece of music that blossoms afresh with each re-listen. It is, by turns, dark, twisty, fuzzy, bright and beautiful. Some parts of it sound like a choir; others like an oncoming storm. It is all well worth your time.

A Good Read A Good Listen and A Good Drink, Adam Sturgeon, WHOOP-Szo

It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.

In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.

WHOOP-Szo is a fluid musical collective currently operating out of Guelph/London, Ontario, Canada. Previously they were my most favorite purveyor of tone-poems inspired by the Canadian Arctic, but with Mirror North, the a-side of their offering for Record Store Day, things have taken a turn for the sludgy.

The record/song was created by an incarnation of the band that featured Adam Sturgeon, Eric Lourenco, Joe Thorner, and Kirsten Palm and recorded at the Quarantine in Port Greville, Nova Scotia with Colleen Collins and Dave Trenaman (Construction & Destruction) and Tim Glasgow (Metric, Sonic Youth).

It arrived in my inbox described as the sound of “a band in a single room; ocean, old cabin, blueberry hill, bear shit and all​” and, well, I don’t have much to add to that, really.

Well, ok, perhaps a few things: It has a certain hypnotic ebb and flow. I keep going back to it to sway along with the drum and meditate on the Baby I’m scared refrain and then be jarred back into alertness by the jagged roar of a guitar at the end. It sounds like the ocean in the sense that it sounds like the feeling of a great big rolling Atlantic breaker coming in, the choice: jump or dive, and the hard tug of the current that signals you’ll get hauled out to sea if you aren’t careful.

And now I turn the floor over to Adam Sturgeon, who has joined us today to share a favorite book, record and drink.

Whoop szo craven cottage-7941

A Good Read:

Kiss of the Fur Queen – Tomson Highway

This book speaks to me. It’s an emotional journey through one individuals life as affected by Residential School. It does a lot in that it makes me think of my own families history, and while notably different there are striking similarities that bring me close to my father and grandfather; building a greater capacity to understand our relationship. Not for the faint of heart, there is a huge let down as you hold hope that one character is different than the impending results.

A Good Listen:

Construction & Destruction – Mutatis Mutandis

How could we record our album with Colleen and Dave and not mention their albums. This one in particular has a ton of appeal for WHOOP-Szo as a band, our favourite track, The Bear:

A Good Drink:

Chaga [tea], [made from] the fungus that grows on Birch trees, a major influence on this record.

WHOOP-Szo, Qallunaat/Odemin


Qallunaat/Odemin, the latest from WHOOP-Szo (this incarnation: Adam Sturgeon, Kirsten Palm, Gnathan and Starr Campagnaro), is a double album, recorded mostly in the village of Salluit, in the Québécois part of the Canadian Arctic, while Sturgeon and Palm were running a screen-printing program with Inuit youth.

The songs are, collectively, an odd but dazzling musical kaleidoscope. Here, you hold it, I’ll spin the wheel for you:
Amaruq (feat. Larry T) is the first song on Qallunaat, and is a low-fi pop song.

They’ve built their nests, in the chimneys of my heart; those swallows that you’ve lost is both the title and an appropriate summary of this delicate, sweet little song, also from Qallunaat:

Kirsten Time is the second song on Odemin and it is an eccentric, dreamy ambient delight limned with the perfect amount of distortion and fuzz.

And finally, Mirror North, the last song on Odemin which starts out – not boring, certainly, but – like the soothing routine of necessary tasks done against the background of snowscape – and ends in the unexpected cracking of the pack ice.

For the rest, stop by their bandcamp page.