NPR First Listen: Braids, ‘Deep In The Iris’ (Mixed by Damian Taylor)

braidsBraids, ‘Deep In The Iris’ was mixed by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio in Montreal.

Via NPR:

There’s placid grace to Deep In The Iris, the third and latest full-length by Braids, but don’t let that fool you. Something’s churning beneath the album’s calm, cool surface. Unlike Flourish // Perish, the Montreal trio’s icy, challenging record from 2013, Deep In The Iris represents a thaw: Throughout its nine songs, singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston and her cohorts Taylor Smith and Austin Tufts infuse skittering, Björk-like art-rock with melodic allure, confessional directness and quivering warmth. Where Flourish // Perish used prickly electronics and cavernous arrangements to hold humanity at arm’s length, Deep In The Iris turns those same elements into lulling hymns to cleansing and redemption. Braids is not only more approachable than ever; it’s downright magnetic.

Part of Deep In The Iris’ strange charm lies in its instrumentation. Standell-Preston and her crew lean less on digitized, glitch-heavy sounds, opting instead for a more organic mix of pulsing percussion and piano. In “Letting Go,” the opening keyboard chords signal an airy approach, one that Standell-Preston takes full advantage of as she chants the song’s refrain, “The hardest part is letting go.” Her breathy vocals, as liquid and acrobatic as ever, elevate a line that in lesser hands would have seemed clichéd. Meanwhile, the band underscores the bittersweet melancholy with hypnotic patterns of percussion and synths. The hooks are subtle, but they’re huge.

That boldness, both instrumentally and lyrically, is even more striking in “Miniskirt.” In the past, Standell-Preston has couched her lyrics in a haze of poetic abstraction; here, she goes for the throat, calling out misogyny, the male gaze and the language of slut-shaming with piercing, confessional force. The song could almost pass as an epic R&B ballad, at least at first: After a sumptuous, stadium-worthy intro, it corkscrews through a tangle of jittery beats and atmospheric eeriness that never wanders into self-indulgence. Even within the album’s most complex and confrontational track, there’s an immaculate pop edge that mesmerizes.

The raw frustration and outrage of “Miniskirt,” however, feels like part of the thaw. Deep In The Iris is about the good and the bad that’s unlocked when the ice melts. While nowhere near as harrowing, “Happy When” is gripping in another way: Washes of echo and spatters of notes form a fuzzy, haunting drone — that is, until the song comes into sharp focus halfway through, marking a jarring shift that reflects Standell-Preston’s newfound frankness. “Sit down with emotion / Take the time to feel it,” she sagely advises over a melodramatic pounding of the keys before wrapping up with a virtuosic growl.

By the time “Warm Like Summer” bursts into a dazzle of soulful croons, glimmering loops and shuffling drums, it appears that the album’s springtime release is no accident: This is the sound of renewal and regrowth, as joyful and as painful as that can be. In “Letting Go,” Standell-Preston sings with dreamy contentment, “We laid on the bank and had our fill.” On the lush, stuffed-to-bursting Deep In The Iris, Braids has done exactly that.

For more and to listen, visit NPR.

Listen To FOXTROTT’s Fearless “Driven” (Mixed by Damian Taylor)

Photo by Jerôme Nadeau

Photo by Jerôme Nadeau

The Montreal-based producer and songwriter returns with her first song in over a year. “Driven” was mixed by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio in Montreal.


Montreal’s Marie-Hélène L. Delorme, aka FOXTROTT, is not afraid to be direct. She spent her early music career making beats and remixes for local friends and perfecting her crystal clear production sensibility. “Driven,” the first single from her debut full-length, A Taller Us—out soon via One Little Indian—shows her ear for crisp sonic textures. Listening to the bold sincerity of her vocals, you can tell she’s the kind of person who doesn’t need to hide behind blurry embellishments—she lets the undeniable hooks stand on their own. If you’re in the NYC area, FOXTROTT is performing live on April 25th at The Standard Hotel. For more, watch her soul-stirring live cover of what’s maybe The Smiths’ best song.

For more and to listen, visit FADER.


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Braids share new song “Taste” from forthcoming Deep in the Iris, mixed by Damian Taylor


Canadian electro-pop outfit Braids are the kind of band that have been enjoyable to follow their progressions over the past six years, as their amorphous music has taken various pleasing shapes. “Taste” is the latest tune to be let go from their forthcoming Deep In the Iris, which is out April 28 via Arbutus/Flemish Eye, and it’s one of the band’s most beautifully straightforward tunes yet, with soaring vocals and elegant piano cascading through a stuttered rhythm.

Deep in the Iris was mixed by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio.

To listen, visit more at FADER.

Check out TR/ST’s darkly euphoric new single ‘Slug’, mixed by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio


Have an existential crisis at the disco with the Canadian artist’s smokescreen synths

Even the most euphoric of moments from Canadian one-man-band TR/ST (aka Robert Alfons) often feel strangely introspective. On his new single “Slug,” following on from the twisted joy of last year’s Joyland LP, Alfons stands alone behind a smokescreen of synths and a driving beat, with that iconic voice just a little bit out of reach. “The themes are desolate,” Alfons told Dazed back in 2012; “It’s about control and all the gazing afterwards…all the little blooms that creep within.” With “Slug,” he’s more in control of that world and its creeping blooms than ever; it’s an existential crisis at the disco, punctuated by spoken-word reflections and crunchy, distorted breakdowns that add a dangerous counterpoint to a fist-pumping rhythm.

Get lost inside it at DAZED. “Slug” was mixed by Damian at his studio, Golden Ratio in Montreal.