The Hope Slide es un dúo comprometido con el Dream-Pop hecho con guitarras, sintetizadores y elementos electrónicos. Sus influencias más claras serían las de Cocteau Twins, Curve, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, o por mencionar a algún contemporáneo, School of Seven Bells; aunque hay temas como The Westward pull en los que la influencia del sonido Bristol es más clara. Sea como fuere, The Hope Slide acaban de publicar su álbum de debut, un disco preñado de ese Dream-Pop electrónico que tan en boga está hoy en día y en el que muestran una fijación “extraña” por las catástrofes o desgracias naturales (In ashe, Parish, Topple in the sky, Passage, Red forest), que ellos entienden como una relación íntima de la política con los seres humanos, concebidos éstos como seres políticos. En él disco destacan temas como los tres que os ofrezco en descarga gratuita, que puedes encontrar desde su Bandcamp, donde puedes conseguir su álbum igualmente. Topple in the Sky es el single elegido, una bonita canción mezcla de todos esos elementos a los que hemos hecho alusión: medios tiempos, guitarras sostenidas y electrónica.
“Early in the morning of January 9, 1965, a small earthquake sent the southwest slope of Johnson Peak tumbling toward a stretch of highway near Hope, British Columbia. A torrent of 46 million cubic meters of rock, mud, and debris came down and buried the cars on the road, killing four people. Only two bodies were recovered; the other drivers have remained entombed in their automobiles for 45 years.
Not a terribly uplifting event to name a band after, perhaps, but the Hope Slide is arguably no ordinary band. The duo’s members, Michaela Galloway (vocals, Moog) and John Lucas (guitar, bass, keyboards, beats), were formerly in Hinterland, a band that, through its eight-year, three-album run, consistently made the Canadian college-radio charts, performed all over the country (including on a nationally broadcast TV show), and generally built a cult following. Whereas Hinterland was a five-piece rock band, however, the Hope Slide leans more toward the electronic end of things, albeit with all the moody dream-pop atmospherics for which Lucas and Galloway are known.
The duo’s self-titled, home-recorded debut is something of a concept album befitting the band’s chosen name. The songs deal with disasters and upheavals of all kinds, including the ill-fated Franklin Expedition (“Passage”), the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 (“In Ashe”), the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and the impact of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe on the surrounding ecosystem (“Red Forest”). Why explore such heavy subjects? “Because they are external manifestations of internal, all too human struggles.” Michaela says. “Each one of these events is a human tragedy and has resulted from the aspirations and sometimes arrogance that distinguishes the human animal. The songs are largely about failed attempts to conquer nature and the heavy hand of nature—of cold, of gravity, of radiation—that returns every strike with a force we sometimes cannot withstand. Some of the songs are about human nature; about our drives to conquer one another, and our failure to help one another, and the tragedy that results from this.”
“In Ashe” was inspired by a landmark event in the history of workers’ rights, “Parish” confronts the U.S. government’s failed response to Hurricane Katrina, and “Topple the Sky” deals with the Iranian election of 2009, but the Hope Slide is not about slogans or polemics. “The intention was never to make a specifically political statement,” Michaela explains. “Life is political and humans are political animals, so all the songs have political content in that way. The focus here is on the tragedy itself—human nature as nature opposed to itself. The tragedies that befall humanity are often human-caused and politically generated.”
The Hope Slide was recorded mostly at home, and it will be the first release for which Submerged Records is not offering a physical product. “For us to lavish money on a big recording studio and expensive packaging would be to deny the reality of how the music business works in 2010,” says John, who is a partner in the label along with Michaela. “As a small, independent label with limited project budgets, it’s important for us to stay ahead of the curve. CD sales are at an all-time low, and we know anything we put out is just going to be on Pirate Bay within 10 minutes anyway. We want to get our music out to those who will appreciate what we do, and making it a digital release seems like the best way to do that.”
As for recording at home, John found it opened up a world of possibilities. “I think we achieved a sound comparable to a studio recording,” he says. “But at the same time, I don’t think we could have created some of these songs in a big studio. Not being constrained by time or studio rental fees allowed me to spend a long time tweaking the sounds, and putting together beats and samples in a way that I never could have done before.”
In other words, despite the inevitable frustrations, John and Michaela had fun making this album. But, given the topics covered in the lyrics, you might think listening to it would be something of a downer. “The events themselves are all horrible,” Michaela admits. “Some of these songs really are laments—meditations on tragedy, human failings, and sorrow. Other songs are tributes to the human condition, dark tributes to human aspirations—our push to the stars, to go west, to break a passage through the Arctic. They put us in contest with nature, and with each other, so sometimes the result is tragedy, but they are still beautiful drives” (submergedrecords.com)