The Luyas went into the studio on a February morning with the plan of getting some drum sounds to start writing songs for a new album. As the mics were going up, the band received a phone call. There had been a sudden death. The incomprehensible event left the band in an existential daze. The mics put themselves up that morning.
The resulting LP, Animator, opens with “Montuno,” a 9-minute account of a hallucination about the repetition of days, the split seconds that define us, and the strangeness of the certainty of death.
There’s something almost supernatural to the feel of the record. “Animator is supposed to be some weird resuscitation. The animator’s job is to create the semblance of movement in things that cannot move themselves. The musician’s is to make us feel like something is happening with a sound” explains singer and multi-instrumentalist Jessie Stein.
Recorded and produced at the Treatment Room by band member and experimental brass player Pietro Amato and mixed by Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes at his Breakglass Studios in the band’s hometown of Montreal, Animator is a cathartic sophisticated collection of songs. As melodically compelling as it is artistically rich, Animator is intuitive, seductive, moody and textural. It slowly unfolds its beauty and trusts the listener to stay with it.
Just as dance pioneer Loïe Fuller, whose image graces the album cover, beguiled the world with the Dance Serpentine, the songs on Animator have a hypnotic effect. Sarah Neufeld and Amato’s arrangements of string and horn float throughout, fragile and fleeting. Stein’s gentle vocals have an eerie insular feel. Mathieu Charbonneau and Mark Wheaton’s rhythm section put you in a trance. Fleets of strange noises dot the horizon. Like Portishead or the Silver Apples, the Luyas exist in the world to communicate something original yet fundamentally relatable without resorting to nostalgia.
The band’s riveting live show has been charming fans since the release of 2011’s Too Beautiful To Work, and they’ve toured the world with the likes of the Antlers, the Dodos and Blonde Redhead. The Luyas are ascending a trajectory of artistic vision and creativity, and asking if we, too, are curious.