Great Scott! Great Balls of Fire! Greathunter! Great name! Comprised of songwriters and composers Andrew Grosvenor and Leigh Newton, this Ottawa band has released its debut album, “Prey”, which may as well have just been called “Pray” for all the deeply embedded spiritual connectedness this listener found within its grooves.
To be honest, this one took me by surprise. How a band this new can deliver a musical statement this mature and well produced is pretty much beyond me, but Greathunter does so in spades. Wisdom and longing leap out of each song, as though Grosvenor and Newton have lived within the emotions and themes present in the melodies, and decided to throw as much musical instrumentation into the marinade as they possibly could. While minor keys make the day here, it is not in such a way that the album becomes plodding and depressing. There is hope shot through each song, but it is a hope that is lived in and unexpected. In short, it’s music for the reals.
The production (courtesy of Newton and Peter Zachar) is an intoxicating mix of Brian Wilson and the Deftones, and it hits you full in the face. Gentle musical slaloms shoot up big waves of icy breezed snowsoundscapes. Slow-motion mood music, with muted intensity rumbling through the tectonic shifts. Vibraphones intermix with giant plodding rhythms and quaking bass.
The standout, key tracks of the album are “Satellites” and “Fox”, which somehow float and lumber at the same time. The bassline and synths on “Satellites” in particular are absolutely captivating and set a wonderfully sad tone. Programmed drums and drony synths punctuate the rest of the production, married to melodies of exhausted yearning. There is an intense pathos that pierces the proceedings. but it is always slashed by the deep sense of connectedness to something bigger; it’s as though the challenge of stepping up and confronting the hurts inherent in the world are worth it for the life experience gained. This is perfectly encapsulated in the refrain “all in time” repeated in “Satellites”. In short, this album is a brilliant, melancholic trip.
In this vein, the opening cut, “Time to Depart”, is almost like a “Dangling Conversation” for the modern day. The lyrics paint a picture of a relationship that has gone past its best before date and the participants have decided to sadly move on. The music framing the words is evocative of this feeling as well. The song struck this listener in a personal way, giving voice to some of my own relational sadness: a relationship that explodes is obviously sad, while a relationship that just dies is an entirely different beast and no less difficult for it. This is intensely cinematic music.
Here is Greathunter’s just released video for “Time to Depart”: