Saturday, November 1, 2014

Slim Twig's cult classic reissued by DFA

Slim Twig rocks the Silver Dollar on Friday, January 23.
Self-produced by Toronto's own Slim Twig in the fall of 2010, A Hound at the Hem is a suite of songs inspired thematically by Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and musically by Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson. Upon completing AHATH, our man Slim found some difficulty getting his record label Paper Bag to release his epic psych-pop masterwork.

Admittedly, Twig's concept album sounded nothing like anything by Paper Bag's other artists. If you think back to what was being done at the time by bands on their roster – Tokyo Police Club, Rock Plaza Central, Winter Gloves, Cities In Dust, Rural Alberta Advantage, Woodhands, The Acorn, etc. – that's not really such a bad thing.

In any case, Twig went back to the studio and recorded a more conventional set of pop songs which Paper Bag happily put out as Sof' Sike in 2012. But rather than let what he considered to be his best work to date go unheard,  Twig issued AHATH in a limited edition of 300 copies on his own Calico Corp imprint via Pleasence Records in November of that year prefaced by the following explanation on his blog site:

"Two years ago I started work on a narrative album with my friend Louis Percival. We stayed on Toronto Island for a month arranging and recording. I spent a further year revising and overdubbing, mixing and re-mixing, conspiring the narrative in my own head. The result is A Hound at the Hem. The work of this album actually precedes Sof' Sike, and will now finally see release next month as a co-release between Calico Corp. & Pleasence Records.

"I consider this work - which fashions itself as the hard psych flipside to Sof' Sike - as my finest (and certainly densest) musical achievement to date. It features work from the very finest in the Toronto scene - (in the world truly, in my not so humble opinion) - including Louis Percival, Carl Didur, Tim Westberg, Meg Remy, Colin Fisher, & Tilman Lewis. It also features wonderful string arrangements by Owen Pallett, performed by the St. Kitts string quartet. I have a range of very intense memories from the work of this album, and truly the completion of it has changed me as a creative being.

"The album owes a sizable cosmic debt to Lolita, and to Histoire de Melody Nelson (Jean-Claude Vannier's visionary arrangements in particular)."

That miniscule initial pressing of 300 copies vanished soon after hitting the street and was well on the way to becoming one of those prized Canuck private-press curios which collectors speak about in hushed tones. But then some hipster doofus in a Neu t-shirt caught wind of the whole sad AHATH saga, loved the album and ruined everything for vinyl speculators sitting on sealed originals by announcing a deluxe reissue on New York's DFA Records.

You'd think that picking up Calico Corp's brilliant Zacht Automaat 2LP retrospective would make more sense for the trend-conscious DFA but hey, who am I to question the judgment of James "Speedking" Murphy.  DFA have manufactured 600 more copies of A Hound at the Hem in a fancy gatefold sleeve with no extra tracks, 100 of which are on pink wax and available here. Check out Meg Remy's video for the track Maintain The Charade below.

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