Even as Siskiyou's first record was delivered to Constellation in early 2010 and getting prepped for release that fall, Colin Huebert remained holed up in Mara, BC (pop. 350) through the winter, writing more songs and eventually being joined by his Siskiyou co-conspirator Erik Arnesen for a few weeks of intensive recording. Unlike the material on their eponymous debut, which was largely recorded in nomadic fashion while Colin and Erik toured as members of Great Lake Swimmers, the Mara, BC sessions found the pair settled, rooted and with keys in hand to the century-old Mara Community Hall.
Most of the tunes on Keep Away The Dead were born at Mara Hall, where bed tracks were laid down in the crisp air during depth of winter. The arctic atmosphere of that empty, cavernous, hardwood structure was the perfect complement to Huebert's sensibility: a tense and acute restraint; a shivering, biting, sometimes bitter rending of barebones, folk-inflected rock music. (Neil Young remains a clear touchstone – overtly so with the album's cover of "Revolution Blues" – as do the pointed, starkly controlled arrangements and textures of contemporaries like Angels Of Light.)
Huebert left Mara in spring 2010 and moved to Vancouver, where Siskiyou began to take shape as a full band with the addition of Shaunn Watt and Peter Carruthers. Coming off a season of extensive touring in Euope and Canada in fall 2010, Siskiyou had coalesced into an incisivie quartet and hit Vancouver's JC/DC Studio in early 2011 with engineer David Carswell (Destroyer, New Pornographers), adding to the previous year's Mara sessions and cutting two more tunes for which Carswell ran the mix: "Twigs And Stones" and "Revolution Blues”. Huebert recorded and mixed the remainder of Keep Away The Dead (as he did on the previous record).
Where Siskiyou's debut was a stunning little scrapbook of short, sharp tunes, Keep Away The Dead ramps things up with subtle care and clarity, yielding something closer to a rural gothic novella in spirit and scope. The album is a strikingly cold-eyed, tender-hearted song cycle, marked by quiet defiance and desperation. Huebert's acoustic guitar and gently acetic voice, Arnesen's gorgeous banjo and treated guitar lines, and the judicious rhythm section of Watt and Carruthers deliver a superbly compelling album on the knife's edge of darkness, where each tune feels like another precious log thrown on a lone campfire burning in the cold night.
Thanks for listening.
1. Keep Away the Dead
2. Where Does That Leave Me
3. Twigs And Stones
4. So Cold
5. Revolution Blues
6. Dear Old Friend
7. Not the Kind
8. Fiery Death
9. Sing Me to Sleep
10. Dead Right Now
Running time: 00:33:22
LP is pressed on 180g vinyl and comes in a jacket printed in full colour on thick 24pt board and includes a colour insert sheet. First pressing of LP also includes a limited edition art print poster and download code.
CD comes in a custom gatefold jacket printed on reverse 100% recycled Orford paperboard in full colour.
Colin Huebert, Erik Arnesen, Shaunn Watt, Peter Carruthers
Colin Stetson - trumpet, trombone, french horn, saxophones (track 3)
Cris Derksen - cello (track 4)
Tariq Hussain - lap steel guitar (track 6)
Andrew Lee - pedal steel guitar (tracks 4, 6)
Allison Stewart - viola (track 2, 5, 6)
Adam Fox - vocals (track 1)
All songs written and recorded by Colin Huebert, except:
Track 5 - written by Neil Young
Tracks 3, 5 - recorded by David Carswell
Recorded at Mara Community Hall, Mara, BC and JC/DC, Vancouver, BC.
Additional recording by David Carswell and Colin Stetson.
Mastered by Harris Newman.