[Album Review] Foxes in Fiction- Ontario Gothic
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by Mark Anthony Brennan
foxesinfiction

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Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Label: Orchid Tapes

To say that ‘Ontario Gothic’ is a work of rare beauty would be an understatement, which is appropriate in discussing this album given that understatement is the name of the game. On each track on the album Foxes in Fiction (aka Warren Hildebrand) plays a multitude of instruments, but his touch is so subtle that the compositions seem almost bare at times. The arrangement on “Glow”, for example, is so sparse that the song “Ontario Gothic” seems downright drenched in sound by comparison, even though the latter would be considered restrained by most objective standards. It is telling that Hildebrand employs the assistance of kindred spirit Owen Pallett on most of the tracks.

It is tempting to refer to Hildebrand as an electronic artist, but that would be inaccurate for a number of reasons. First of all, he stands out from the electronica crowd with his extensive use of analog instruments, such as the mellotron (remember those?), omnichord and TR-808. Furthermore, a lot of his music does not come from standard instruments at all, but from objects such iphones, answering machines, recorded samples and VHS tape treatments. If all of this sounds like painstaking work then you are starting to get the picture.

On songs like “Glow” and “March” there is such focus on the instrumentation, as restrained as it is, that the vocals almost seem like an intrusion. But ultimately it is an intrusion that is welcome because Hildebrand is also a very gifted lyricist. Consider the following passage in which he comes to terms with the memory of his younger brother who died in 2008:

And I felt just like a child
I’m taking it all from the other side
Driving with you in your car
The home that I know seems so far 

From the celebratory dream pop of “Ontario Gothic” to the wintery instrumental sounds of “Amanda” ‘Ontario Gothic’ certainly has its surficial emotional charm, but it also operates on a more subconscious level, seeping into your bones and getting more magical with each listen.