Built by way of bowed electric guitar, very subtly supplemented by flute, trumpet, synths and audio-tape tinkering, White Whale, the latest from British Columbia’s Caton Diab, exists at a fog-enshrouded meeting point of post-rock, ambient, contemporary classical, and folk (“Haunter” stands out in that last category). It’s at points admirably patient, at others anxious, even angry – there is a drive and bite to “Street Scenes” and “Infernal District” that contrasts sharply with the grand and gradual passages elsewhere. There’s a gritty, rust-chewed roughness throughout – the artist’s hand is ever apparent, and Diab is clearly comfortable getting that hand dirty. The result is a sound that resonates emotionally where a diligent cleanliness might have left the listener cold and distanced. Diab describes these pieces as reflections on the unraveling of the social contract, the better days and ways that no longer seem to lie ahead. There’s a lot of hurt in this music, it’s deeply wounded stuff. Conversely, or perhaps consequentially, there is a heap of hope and healing to be had here as well. The brief, earnestly entitled interlude “Utopia” offers a small dose of solace, as does the uplifting closer, “100 Famous Views”.
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