Siskiyou returns with Nervous, a majestic album of carefully constructed art rock built around songwriter and lead singer Colin Huebert's stacked acoustic guitars and intimate, whispery vocals. Siskiyou’s sound has been previously dubbed a sort of ‘Northern Gothic’, conjuring cold winds and the life-saving warmth of temporary shelters and tiny hearth fires. With Nervous, the band continues to push beyond the crisp lo-fi intimacy of its early work, and has forged its most confident and finely-crafted recording to date, moving fully into auteur and chamber-pop territory with a song cycle that brings to mind the meticulousness of mood and sonics found in recent work by PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and Tindersticks. Inflected by an anxious, susurrant restraint, Huebert's voice is supported by the falsetto backing vocal counterpoint and economical instrumentation of bandmates Erik Arnesen, Peter Carruthers, Shaunn Watt and Andrew Lee. Fans of the understated and underrated 1990s group Swell may also hear a welcome evocation of that group's acoustic guitar-driven simplicity and austere deployment of adornments.
Following Siskiyou's excellent sophomore release Keep Away The Dead in 2011, Huebert became afflicted with a serious inner ear condition that eluded conventional diagnosis. While honouring a previously scheduled songwriting residency in Dawson City, Yukon in winter 2012, Huebert found himself grappling with severe anxiety and an unwelcome interiority, engendered by hyperacusis and a house that felt utterly haunted. Intense chronic ear-ringing and panic attacks continued throughout the year, for which conventional medicine was unable to find any cause or effective treatment; Huebert began focusing on meditation, retreated to silence for a period, and then began rehearsing his new songs with the band at extremely low volumes. The songs on Nervous are shot through with the entirety of this experience: the literal feeling of being trapped in one's head and the physical-psychological feedback loop of debilitating anxiety; the lyrical themes and tense, whispered singing amidst tightly-wrought compositions and arrangements.
Huebert found solace in new working methods within the controlled environment of studio-based production and composition, developing new sonic palettes and pursuing new avenues of instrumental arrangement and recording fidelity. Working with producer/engineer Leon Taheny (Owen Pallett/Final Fantasy, Dusted, Austra) on most of Nervous, Siskiyou has emerged with by far its most assured, ambitious and authoritative recordings, while preserving the economy of elements, deft structures, and assiduous melodic deliberation for which the band has been rightly celebrated over its two previous albums. In charting escape paths from his disquieting cranial confinement, Huebert has very much succeeded in setting his songs out on an expansive canvas, while preserving a palpable sense of nervous interiority and quiet desperation at their heart.
Nervous includes contributions from guest musicians Colin Stetson, Owen Pallett, JP Carter, Ryan Driver and the St. James Music Academy Senior Choir, among others. The album features original artwork by Michael Drebert; the Deluxe LP edition includes a series of 12"x12" prints of Drebert's india ink drawings inspired by the album.
Thanks for listening.
2. Bank Accounts and Dollar Bills (Give Peace a Chance)
3. Wasted Genius
4. Violent Motion Pictures
5. Jesus In The 70's
6. Oval Window
8. Imbecile Thoughts
9. Babylonian Proclivities
10. Falling Down The Stairs
Running time: 00:42:56
LP is pressed on 180 gram virgin vinyl at Optimal (Germany) and comes in a heavyweight jacket with black poly-lined audiophile dust sleeve, credit insert, pull-out art poster and download code for 320 kbps MP3 copy of the album.
CD comes in a custom gatefold jacket printed on thick 24pt. paperboard with a printed CD dust sleeve.
Artwork by Michael Drebert
Shaunn Watt: Drums, percussion
Peter Carruthers: Bass, guitar, piano
Erik Arnesen: Banjo, electric guitar
GUESTSAndrew Lee: Electric guitar (2)
Colin Stetson: Saxophones (1, 4)
Owen Pallet: Strings
JP Carter: Affected trumpet (4, 6, 9)
Tamara Lindeman: Voice (2, 4, 5, 7)
St. James Music Academy Senior Choir: Voice
Ryan Driver: Flute (7)
Andrew Rasmussen: Piano
Produced by Colin Huebert with assistance from Leon Taheny and John Raham.
Recorded by Leon Taheny at Afterlife Studios, except:
"Nervous" and "Wasted Genius" recorded by John Raham
"Violent Motion Pictures" recorded by Erik Nielsen
Assistant engineer: Alex Gamble
Choir recording engineer: Will Kendrick
Mixed by Leon Taheny (1, 5, 6, 8, 10) and John Raham (2, 3, 4, 7, 9)
Mastered by Harris Newman at Greymarket