Trace Magnette : Hoods Jinx — Drophead 006
by Julian Hanna
Hoods Jinx is the first full-length album from Trace Magnette, a new project bringing together Montreal artist Eric Craven and longtime friend and collaborator (and former Montrealer) Damon Henry. The project, recorded in Montreal last July as Germany demolished Brazil 7-1 in the World Cup, distills the spirit of an intense three-day recording session. Hoods Jinx takes the intrepid listener on a barrier-breaking camel trek into scorching aural landscapes. Feedback loops and guitar scrapes are carved out around a solid architecture of rhythm. Nothing is abstract or slow burning: Hoods Jinx is immediate, vital, visceral and bloody-minded.
Trace Magnette is the sound of past and future Montreal. Post-industrial, chaotic yet disciplined, a sonic melting pot of the widest possible range of voices and influences. Its seven distinct tracks evoke back alley junkpiles, Mile-End breakfasts, snowbound Ladas, rent party handclaps, androgynous landlords, railway overpasses, broken synthesizers, linguistic threesomes, lost cats and found percussion. Throbbing drums, surgical guitar riffs, cinematic cut-ups, oxygenating keyboards and dubbed out basslines are all in full effect. Part Vorticist manifesto, part soundtrack for FPV drone racing: Hoods Jinx represents the best of the old and new, liberation and mourning, the sound of the broken sidewalk avant-garde.
A little backstory: Eric Craven’s Drophead project/label has featured collaborations with Silent Land Time Machine, on From Ashes Comes the Day , Nick Kuepfer, on ¼ Tonne Overhaul and cellist Mark Molnar on une gnolba en feu. The three musicians form the current line up of 1/4 tonne. Hoods Jinx sees Craven taking over the mixing duties and further exploring his outsider approach to guitar, keyboards, and loops. Eric Craven made his indelible mark as drummer in Constellation Records bands hangedup (a drums/viola duo started with Gen Heistek in 1999), Hrsta, and Silver Mt. Zion. Hangedup has toured extensively across Europe and North America, including All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK and K-RAA-K in Belgium. They teamed up with legendary polymath Tony Conrad on Transit of Venus, released in 2012.
Damon Henry plays bass with the energetic No Wave-y, half-Japanese Ruby Karinto on the West Coast. He was also in the great math rock trio Saul Duck – I still have a CD cover made from a roofing shingle – and the hypnotic ambient post-rock Vancouver project ‘the beans‘ (who I saw once with The Flaming Lips and infamously played a continuous 48 Hour show at the now defunct Sugar Refinery).
But the Hoods Jinx DNA goes even deeper. The members of Trace Magnette started playing together way back in 1991 – with bands like Seatbelt, in their native Victoria, and Shortwave, based in Montreal, who played the Knitting Factory in its heyday. The album title is a tribute to a talented West Coast drummer and friend who died in 2012. It also speaks of speed, energy and recklessness. Magnette (a type of 1950s MG), like Drophead, hints at a petrolhead obsession. All of that history is layered beneath the sounds of Hoods Jinx. It is futuristic and forward-looking and yet suggests, not least by its analogue format, a trenchant critique of tinkerproof digital technology, cloud computing, sleek white boxes, and ubiquitous connectivity. It wants to break the code, mess with the sensors, get under the hood. There are unresolved tensions and contradictions, like a Bukowski-loving feminist or a bicycle activist with a secret love of old cars – the contradictions we live with every day, the things we love that threaten to kill us. It’s an incredibly deep, rich listen, the result of decades of collaboration, experiment and experience.
Trace Magnette – Hoods Jinx Drophead 006 (cassette)
Release date: October 9, 2015
Damon Henry: Bass… and keyboards, percussion, knob turns, loops, hand claps
Eric Craven: Drums… and guitar, keyboards, non rhythmic percussion, loops, feedback
Recorded in Montreal: July 6,7,8, 2014
Mixed: Eric Craven
Mastered: Harris Newman
Art: Nick Kuepfer
Thank you:Harris Newman, Mark Molnar, Erin Renwick, Erin Flynn, Nick Kuepfer,
RIP Josh Dixon