Four years in the making, Toronto artist Barzin released his fifth studio album, Voyeurs In The Dark last week, broadening his usual folk pop towards a more experimental direction. The album feels quite cinematic, perhaps an effect of the time spent in recent years composing the soundtrack for the independent film, Viewfinder.
Voyeurs In the Dark feels like a seductive, contemplative route through the shimmering haze, with wonderfully atmospheric songs at every stop. The title and opening track showcases this right from the start – the first guitar strums and the fizz of the drum machine show us what to expect from this album, which is a collection of beguiling, almost hypnotic beats and songs that envelop the listener in warmth. Of this track, Barzin says
“I remember, years ago, coming across a passage written by the writer and psychologist, James Hillman. “The only solution to the longing for union is union with longing.” This has stayed with me ever since, and I think it has informed this song.”
However, this album has much more to it. ‘I Don’t Want to Sober Up‘ does a slow waltz around swirling guitars, while ‘Watching‘ fills with synth riffs and bass and ‘It’s Never Too Late to Lose Your Life‘ blends jazz into a somewhat urgent yet affirmative sound. I used the word beguiling earlier and I find myself wanting to use it again – this is an album that can easily beguile the listener into whiling away a day on repeat. It wouldn’t be a wasted day, rather the opposite.
Barzin’s advice for aspiring musicians is all about the creative vision:
Don’t give up your creative vision to those who claim to have a vision for you. For a very long time now, I think there has been a romantic idea in the music industry that there are certain people who possess a rare talent for magically turning anything they touch into gold. This was an idea that I too believed in when I was starting to make albums, until I finally had the opportunity to work with these magical beings. With each experience, I learned that these individuals are just like everyone else. There are no geniuses here, no visionaries, no chosen ones. The one who possesses the rare insight into the work of art is the artist himself.
We are so ready to give up our powers to others when in reality we know better than anyone else what a song/album needs. It takes time and patience. You just keep chipping away at it. You come at it from different angles. You keep dressing it up in different clothes. That’s what all the great producers in the history of music have done. They had time, patience and a broad perspective on music. They also surrounded themselves with great musicians. They tried things and if it didn’t work, they would try something else. On and on it went. It’s laborious and sometimes not very sexy. It’s work. The latest Peter Jackson documentary reveals the endless hours the Beatles spent in the studio jamming, fighting and wrestling with each other to make an album. This footage demystifies these giants of the pop world.
Everyone now has access to amazing sounds, programs and recording equipment. We have so much at our fingertips. It’s all about harnessing this power that is available to us. I say, surround yourself with great musicians. Expand your musical vocabulary by listening to as many different genres as possible. And work work work, and when you think you’ve gotten there, work some more.
Voyeurs in the Dark was released on 22 April on Monotreme Records. Get your copy here.
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