HUNTING - HUNTING
In the spring of 2012, songwriter Bradley Ferguson spent two months in Berlin and Paris with the intention of immersing himself in Europe's thriving electronic music scene. Ironically, the Vancouver multi-instrumentalist came home with a batch of songs that formed the crux of his new indie folk project, Hunting. The band's self-titled album will be out on February 25 through Nevado Records.
Ferguson previously released two albums of fidgety electro-rock under the name Bradley, and his initial demos for the new songs were similarly filled with buzzing synthesizers and glitchy, syncopated drum machines. This material got a drastic overhaul, however, once he began collaborating with friends in Vancouver.
"I tried out a couple of the tunes with a full band, instead of just programming beats in my bedroom," he explains. "It totally took my brain to a different level. Everybody became such a huge part of the sound."
During the sessions, Hunting's lineup included Paul Rigby (Neko Case, A.C. Newman), drummer/co-producer John Raham (The Be Good Tanyas, Kelly Joe Phelps), Jessica Yliruusi on glockenspiel and violinist Jesse Zubot (Dan Mangan, Fond of Tigers). The lush, cinematic arrangements were further fleshed out with input from Mother Mother frontman Ryan Guldemond, local songwriter Dustin Bentall, bassist Darren Parris (Daniel Powter) and banjoist/pedal steel player John Ellis (Jeremy Fisher, Ridley Bent).
The bulk of the instruments were recorded live to tape at Vancouver's Afterlife Studio, imbuing the tracks with an organic warmth that was miles away from the synth-frazzled initial demos. Acoustic opener "Aleen Obscene" sets a tone of heartbroken resignation, with Ferguson sighing, "They said she died in Miami / Who cares." The crunchy "Patti" is heavier and more upbeat, with distorted rock guitars augmented by a tinkling glockenspiel, while a sinister version of "Everytime I'm with You" (originally by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse) is a rare moment that harkens back to Ferguson's electronic origins.
The mood on these tracks is heavyhearted, but Ferguson's sorrow is comforting rather than alienating. "The songs are sad, yet hopeful," he reflects. "Some of my favourite states have been melancholy. There's a certain kind of relief when you're in a breakup. There's something about it that makes me feel alive."
Whether strumming an acoustic guitar or stitching together frantic beats, Ferguson has proven himself a master of beautiful melodies and plaintive emotions. With the help of his collaborators on Hunting, his songs have never sounded so pure.