The instrumental music of The Hylozoists lends itself well to lofty analogies. One listener might liken it to a soundtrack in search of an arthouse film. Another might find it ideal accompaniment for a macabre carnival carousel. Such comparisons could even coalesce. For example: If Fellini and Leone had started a circus, their organ grinders would’ve churned out music akin to that found on La Fin Du Monde — The Hylozoists’ sophomore album.
While such flights of descriptive fancy certainly allude to the majestic scope of The Hylozoists’ songcraft, they speak little of its immediacy. Appreciation of La Fin Du Monde is scarcely limited to the erudite or elite. Rather, this is music that grips the listener by the heartstrings and affects them on a deeply visceral level.
The Hylozoists were conceived by producer/multi-instrumentalist Paul Aucoin in 2001 when he wrote and recorded debut album La Nouvelle Gauche at his studio in Nova Scotia. A Halifax-heavy line-up of backing musicians was then assembled to perform the songs at a variety of festivals and other dates. However, the project was soon relegated to the backburner as Aucoin turned his focus to responsibilities both in the studio and on stage with The Sadies.
Relocating to Toronto in 2004, Aucoin drafted a new compliment of Hylozoists from bands such as The Weakerthans, FemBots and Cuff the Duke. Having already commenced production on a sophomore effort, he ultimately abandoned the work-in-progress. For Aucoin, it was essential that he start fresh and capture the collective sound of his new legion of collaborators. At that point, The Hylozoists shed the shackles of “solo project” and blossomed into a full-blown supergroup.
Drawing equally from Aucoin’s formal music education and field hours logged on smoky stages, La Fin Du Monde delivers songs that are orchestral in composition and pop in actualization. Tilt-a-whirl opener “The Fifty Minute Hour” leaves the listener deliriously off-balance. Horns, strings and organs swirl dizzyingly while vibraphones serenely anchor the melody. “If Only Your Heart was a Major Sixth” evidences post-rock at its propulsive best. Meanwhile, spaghetti western dramatics rise to the fore on “Elementary Particles” and “Man Who Almost Was.” The spacey “Journey to the End of the Night” conjures dreamy Parisian grandeur. Finally, the closing title track commences with lullaby eloquence before ceding its demure music box melody to torrents of distortion and wailing vocals.
To realize his expansive musical vision, mastermind Aucoin (vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums) calls upon a rotating cast of exemplary players that includes Patrick Conan (ex-Tricky Woo: vibraphone, glockenspiel, drums), Jason Ball (Hopeful Monster: organist, vocals), Jason Tait (The Weakerthans, FemBots: vibraphone, glockenspiel), Paul Lowman (Cuff the Duke: bass), Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke: piano, vocals), Jeremy Strachan (Sea Snakes: guitar), Matthew Faris (Cuff the Duke: drums), Julie Penner (Broken Social Scene/FemBots: violin), Dale Murray (Cuff the Duke: pedal steel, guitar) and Monica Guenter (Christine Fellows: viola).
Traditionally, hylozoism is the belief that all matter holds life. Evidently, these Hylozoists believe every available minute bears opportunity. Having already racked up South by Southwest, Canadian Music Week and a cross-Canada tour in 2006, a deluge of new dates will accompany the release of La Fin Du Monde on Boompa Records. In turn, a new slew of haughty comparisons is sure to follow. Don’t let decadent descriptors dissuade you from experiencing The Hylozoists for yourself. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll and you’ll like it.