Tochigi Canopy - Collecting Things
Listening to Collecting Things for the first time, I was reminded of a line from Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Bill Murray’s eponymous submariner claims that “eleven and a half” was his “favourite age”. Many have argued that this moment - and many others throughout Anderson’s work - point towards a post-ironic way of viewing the world that has developed in music and film and literature over the last 10 or 20 years. Tochigi Canopy’s debut release belongs within this mode of expression because, in Collecting Things, the producer has crafted an album saturated with the bittersweetness of his - and our own - distant childhoods.
It is not just the sounds of children at play that appear on ‘Little People’, or the distorted Boards of Canada-esque vocal samples on ‘Intermission for the Youth’ that give rise to this idea. We might look at how Tochigi Canopy - real name Valentin Meneveau - often momentarily bends the pitch of a song to create a pleasing wobbly sound. This technique warps time in the sense that, without these little moments, the song would be fractionally longer, snappier, and would maintain a regular tempo which would hold us in the present moment. Instead these tape warps nudge us back into the past. The darker side of childhood is also wonderfully evoked, in ‘Woody’s Tapes’ - a bizarre and dark realisation of those feverish childhood nightmares that always seemed so real.
But this is only one side of the album, for there are two distinct impulses at work in Collecting Things. In ‘Velvet Lane’ - undoubtedly the gem of the album - Meneveau shifts into an entirely different mode. It rouses you and makes you want to dance. The track, a refreshingly clean disco edit, breaks free from the lo-fi ambient sonics that, up until this point, form the basis of the album.
Indeed, some salient reference points include Boards of Canada, 18 Carat Affair, and pretty much everything on the Canadian label Mood Hut. The album is achingly nostalgic in the same way Music Has The Right To Children is, or even Huerco S’s For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have), yet ‘Velvet Lane’ ensures that Collecting Things is very much it’s own entity. This is a versatile album that satisfies a range of moods but is fundamentally coherent and unified. It is an album made for both quiet introspection and having a bit of a dance, for DJs and introverts, by someone who is (I tentatively assume) an introverted DJ.
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