Release Date: Nov 18, 2016
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
As all good goths know, tasseomancy means divination by tea leaf: a majestic word for a miserable waste of time. At first contact, this Canadian collective’s third album seems equally pointless. Heart-shrinkingly twee, it drips from the speakers with its inexcusable song titles (Jimi Infiniti, Dead Can Dance & Neil Young), occasionally being mistaken for a tropical-house remix of Wuthering Heights.
If Tasseomancy's last album, 2015's Palm Wine Revisited, was a lush and mysterious landscape, their latest work focuses in on a much smaller picture. Do Easy is witchery on a more minute scale, a far more domestic weirdness. Using the full range of their expressive voices, Romy and Sari Lightman and their band conjure up references to musician, books and films, as though going through a collection.The esoteric lyrical subjects, seemingly random instrumentation (dreamy bebop saxophone from nowhere, anyone?) and arrangements seem cobbled together, a serendipitous jumble of mismatched sounds.
Bella Union’s recent interest in unearthing Canadian groups of siblings (see also Doomsquad) continues with twins Sari and Romy Lightman. Their latest collection slots into a growing wave of alt pop which has been winning through this year (check out Nicholas Krgovich, Jessy Lanza, Anohni and Hannah Peel for starters). Tasseomancy have perhaps directed themselves towards this area after a tea leaf reading, being as their name is the correct term for that art-orm.
If Tasseomancy’s name, referring to the act of divining the future with tea leaves, wasn’t enough of a clue as to the stylings of this Toronto two-piece, the title of their fifth album should seal the deal. “Do easy” was a philosophy espoused by beat writer William Burroughs that advocated carrying out tasks in the most relaxed fashion possible, “like a gentle old cop making a soft arrest”. Here, twins Sari and Romy Lightman (formerly of electronic outfit Austra) translate that concept into a languid and mystical form of baroque folk pop that alternates between seducing and confounding the listener.
Imagine that this isn’t a music review. Imagine that you don’t read music reviews. Instead, you’re standing outside the local arts centre for the opening of Tasseomancy’s latest exhibit. The hotshot critics are up at the door, swapping opinions on the finer details of steel drum brush strokes.
Tasseomancy continue to move away from the offbeat acoustic folk of their prior incarnation, Ghost Bees, into lusher, offbeat dream pop on their third full-length and Bella Union debut, Do Easy. The original duo of twin sisters Romy and Sari Lightman expanded into a four-piece with 2015's Palm Wine Revisited, and dial up the reverb and electronics at least a touch here. Manipulated drum tones and trippy vocal effects join a cloudy atmosphere of synths and guitars on "Claudine." Still delicate and ornamented with pastel timbres like flute, it's layered but light, a description that applies to the album on the whole.
Sisters Sari and Romy Lightman, with Johnny Spence and Evan Cartwright in the fold since last year’s Palm Wine Revisited, are on something of a creative roll. Their debut album was 2011s Ulalume, with Tasseomancy delayed through their commitments playing in Austra. The title draws inspiration from the writer William Burroughs discipline of DE (Do Easy) which he described as “doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage, which is also the quickest and most efficient way.” Accordingly, Do Easy’s songs are elegant and ornate, without sounding cluttered.
Dust Vol. 2, No. 21Rob Noyes photo by Lindsay MetivierFor our final Dust of the year, our writers attacked their to-do lists with unusual force, as we all made an effort to finish off 2016 with a clean slate. The result is one of our longest and most varied round-ups ever. Bill Meyer, Ian Mathers ….