foxes in fiction – ontario gothic

as the person responsible for the lion’s share of day-to-day operations at orchid tapes, one could reasonably assume that warren hildebrand has no time left to devote towards any other project.  the brooklyn boutique has skyrocketed in terms of exposure and influence over this past year, releasing incredibly important albums by ricky eat acid, alex g, and others, all while seamlessly transitioning into the vinyl distribution game.  hildebrand, along with his partner brian vu, handles every aspect of the orchid tapes business, from dubbing tapes to packaging orders to maintaining an extensive social media presence.  despite all of these duties, hildebrand still managed to write, record, and mix ontario gothic, his second full-length effort as foxes in fiction.  it’s an incredibly poignant record, and serves as the long-missing piece to orchid tapes’ puzzle.

hildebrand’s debut, swung from the branches, was an incredibly vast album predicated on the emotions and aftermath of losing his younger brother, and contained nineteen songs of various lengths showcasing his propensity for both drone and more traditional pop structures.  in contrast, ontario gothic feels honed, polished down to a concise seven tracks and a more uniform aesthetic, one that may not embody the everlasting essence of foxes in fiction so much as it helps to represent the specific blend of healing pop hildebrand is pursuing this time around.

simple melodies adorn “march 2011,” a warbly odyssey of an album opener that compounds on countermelodies before unraveling into the first of owen pallett’s many string arrangements throughout ontario gothic.  that warble proves to be a recurring theme throughout the album in some capacity, be it in the light tremolo of hildebrand’s guitar or in the slow pan of the vocals on “glow (v079),” conveying the fragility that often accompanies a state of loss.  the highlights of ontario gothic are nestled snugly in the middle of the album, with both “shadow’s song” and “ontario gothic” employing lilting choral lines that lift hildebrand’s music from a state of uncertainty into an almost heavenly, more fleetingly self-assured realm.

despite brief moments of clarity, it’s evident that hildebrand continues to struggle with demons throughout ontario gothic.  the album itself is dedicated to a friend that died an untimely death, and it’s clear that his own brother’s passing still has a profound impact on hildebrand’s musical trajectory.  but whereas swung from the branches was an effort primarily created in solitude, ontario gothic wholeheartedly embraces outside collaboration: pallett’s strings are sprinkled throughout all but one of the album’s tracks, and three of hildebrand’s friends and label mates lend their voices to closing number “altars.”  this symbolic show of support through music is indicative of everything orchid tapes stands for, and it’s accomplished to a level of beauty and tranquility that few other artists can achieve.  lose yourself in this little album.

7.8/10

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