Hailing from Toronto Canada, Justin Peroff (Broken Social Scene) joined Dave Hamelin and Liam O’Neil (The Stills) to form Eight and a Half.
1 + 2 = 8 ½? The maths is simple, however the story behind the trio is not…
After the unceremonious disbandment of The Stills, and a year of hopping back and forth between cities, Eight and a Half was finally in the right place to elevate their side project to an all out full time band.
Each member seized the opportunity to reinvent himself: while previously Peroff’s steady back beat always provided the solid foundation atop which Broken Social Scene could freely experiment, now with Eight and a Half his drumming is thoroughly deconstructed, as reliant on electronic programming and looped breaks as live performance.
O’Neil, traditionally a piano and horn player, focused on coaxing strange sounds and eerie ambience out of synthesizers and samplers.
And Hamelin - who attempted a more rootsy, conversational style of singing as The Stills’ secondary vocalist - pushed himself to a higher register, adopting a more confessional, emotionally bare mode of songwriting to better complement the band’s minimal, mechanized productions.
Though Eight and a Half’s formation precedes The Stills’ dissolution, it’s tempting to interpret these songs - from the melancholic desolation of “Scissors,” to where-did-it-all-go-wrong self-examination of “Go Ego,” to the turn-a-new-leaf pledge “The Turn Around” - as a direct response to their demise. But the vulnerability, doubt and resignation embedded in Hamelin’s voice and words are easily transferrable to anyone who’s invested years of their life into something special only to watch it vanish in an instant.
Hamelin’s recovery process - as well as Eight and a Half’s own evolution from piecemeal recording project into proper flesh-and-blood band - is mirrored in the album’s sequential shift from darkness to light: what begins as a chilly, claustrophobic and insular experience gradually opens up into a widescreen, kaleidoscopic splendor, spanning the mountainous surge of “A Train to India,” the exuberant digital psychedelia of “Two Points” and the climactic/ecstatic curtain closer “Oh, My Head.”
This is not a side project. This is not a couple of friend’s dicking around on weekends. Eight and a Half is a new, very real band. These numbers don’t lie.
Check out Eight and a Half - Go Ego (Official Video)
Eight and A Half’s self -titled album will be released through Stop Start on Friday 29th June 2012
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