(Do You Dream of Noise?)

Cinematic: “of, relating to, suggestive of, or suitable for motion pictures or the filming of motion pictures”

A modus operandi becomes apparent for Voice of Canvas upon the very first note of the very first track – strike that, before the very first note of the very first track is even played. “Cinematic by Definition” serves both in title and execution as a mission statement, following which SEMAPHORE EKKO is easily understood and appreciated. Similar in scale and scope to film soundtracks that capture the grandeur of location (and it helps when the film is set in a location that becomes an integral part of and potentially overwhelms the action), SEMAPHORE EKKO almost fully becomes a film in itself, not even needing the crutch of a visual medium to establish its plot. It doesn’t hurt that the jcard is adorned with mountain, though. There’s a grandiosity about that snow-covered peak photographed in black and white, monolithic in its presence and conveying a heightened sense of the dramatic to any who view it. Turns out that Voice of Canvas is awfully good at soundtracking mountains.

It’s good that VoC is back, then – not much has emerged from the Swedish artist’s camp since 2010, and if that time was spent gestating the ideas that would become SEMAPHORE EKKO, then bravo. Not unlike Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannson, whose FORDLANDIA is simply breathtaking (and who I wish was providing the music to BLADE RUNNER 2049, but hey, if you wanted Vangelis, why bring in Jóhannson in the first place?), VoC, using all the studio tricks he can muster, creates a huge sound out of stillness. Part ambient, part electronic, solo but with an ear for enormity, SEMAPHORE sneaks up on you, drifting through “Cinematic by Definition” and emerging into the sort of trip hop excursion “Solid Venue (Edt).” It’s “I Call You,” though, that solidifies the whole endeavor, as VoC adds spaghetti western acoustic guitar and ratchets up the spectacle of expectation as if following a gunslinger who wanders into an arctic frontier town under an aurora borealis. From there the sparseness of keys and frigid atmosphere take over, and VoC never loses his vision as he progresses. The music halts these imaginary moments in time, allowing your mind to take the narrative over and build its own backstory and resolution. In this way, Voice of Canvas is maybe more of a cinematographer than a musician – maybe even a director, bringing together the pieces of his singular vision and presenting them as a unified whole.

Voice of Canvas
Do You Dream of Noise? (hope you can read Swedish)

--Ryan Masteller