In Winnipeg it is so easy to interact with the people who thrill you by providing flights of musical fancy. You can talk to and get to know almost anyone; everyone is a regular person with a day job, just like you. The lack of a “music industry” presence keeps the gateway between the artist and the audience wide open and completely unguarded. One band that embodies this freedom, while still being a full-on rock n’ roll experience, goes by the name Electric Soul.
This motley bunch of psych-rock-loving freaks eschews the prepared set list, choosing instead to pass a hat full of their songs through the crowd and let fate—by way of their fans—decide the next tasty jam on the funky docket of love. But the audience’s participatory fun doesn’t end there; Electric Soul has also been known to close their set by handing out noisemakers and letting everyone take part in a big old jam to the tune of their freak-out opus “Half in the Bag.”
Taking a listen to the early mixes of their unreleased album, I am first and foremost grateful that many a Bothan spy did not have to die to get me these tracks, recorded by the steady hand of Winnipeg’s multi-format guru and producer extraordinaire, Len Milne, at Bedside Studio. Next, I can’t help but be amazed how far this band has come in the last year.
Gone are the thin strained vocals that held back their early demos. In their place we find confident voices, singing songs about mad trips through starlit dreamscapes and technicolour vistas of the adventurous mind’s creation, sometimes even in three-part harmony. The adroit, masterful guitar work of Ed Durocher and the cascading keyboards of Dave Guenette play off one another and support each other in a way that can only be developed though hard gigging and years of practice. The solid yet inventive foundation that is E.C.’s rhythm section completes a picture of what I’m sure will be a big album for these guys.
In the five songs that I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at, Electric Soul walks a fine line between a classic style that my parents’ generation will recognize and love as their own, yet the songs extrapolate on the old forms in a way that feels fresh and doesn’t leave me feeling all, “been there, done that.”
Songs to look for: “Keep Away” (future radio hit), “The Fountain” (future score to a head film), and “Dreams” (future mix tape opener).