Published Jun 10, 2019It's heartening to hear a Toronto band like Badge Époque Ensemble cutting an album that's just an instant stone cold classic. Led by Max "Twig" Turnbull (f.k.a. Slim Twig) and featuring some of his fellow U.S. Girls collaborators, the six songs here are packed with psychedelically tinged textures and grooves that are enticing for your mind, but also might well warp it.
Turnbull has applied his "I'm now" approach to making timeless music before, in his solo work, and he continues to mine the past for inspiration in bands like Darlene Shrugg, the Cosmic Range, and the aforementioned U.S. Girls. With each new venture, he isn't just conjuring rad guitar tones, he's getting closer to complete freedom. The liberation to arrange or not, to improvise and see what happens, to let players play and converse intuitively — that's all here within the mesmerizing sprawl of Badge Époque Ensemble.
When "Milk Spilt on Eternity" really, really kicks in, after a gentle prog prodding, it becomes this rich field of electric jazz, on the grittier end of what BADBADNOTGOOD might knock out, way on the other side of town. Chicago post-rockers like Tortoise and Jim O'Rourke are invoked here and there too, on things like "Enormous Profit."
But just in case one is mired in a "This sounds familiar?" haze, Badge Époque Ensemble will step out on, say, "Undressed in Solitude," featuring alluring flute by Alia O'Brien and vocals by James Baley, as if to assert itself as its very own thing, with no parent to its style.
On this striking debut, Badge Époque Ensemble have made a record that feels like an escape route for listeners to get righteously lost in. It's fantastical and a rare kind of sensory overload where what you hear truly alters the way you feel. (Telephone Explosion)