New Label ~ Montreal’s Florina Cassettes

Is it brave or foolhardy to launch a new music label in the middle of a pandemic?  When the music is solid and the presentation is sublime, the first adjective seems more fitting.  With two releases to date, a unified cover design is already apparent, featuring close-ups of classic art (such as the Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Côté painting above), along with a shared timbre.  As this timbre leans toward ambient abstraction, it honors the art, blurring images and tones to create impressionistic forms.

Florina Cassettes is a labor of love from brothers Pier-Luc and Francis Tremblay, who also record under the names Lamasz and Grandbruit and introduced the label in November with the straightforward title, La première sortie de Florina.  The cassette is entirely restive, a gift to a world that in many ways was then ~ and is still ~ at rest.  While the holidays have ended, activities remain suspended, awaiting the all-clear and a reinstatement of movement.    Toward the end of “L’indéterminable âge de Matou,” birds begin to peep from the trees, while “Paquebot” cradles subtle choirs.  The title, meaning mailboat, is relevant in an age of broken supply chains.  The music seems to be saying, some things are slow to arrive, but they arrive eventually, so be patient.

The label’s first release of 2022 is Sebby Kowal‘s Dissolve, an album that travels through weather-worn atmospheres, introducing a hint of drone halfway through its opener.  This gentle static abrasion fits the theme, as well as the cover, in which paint has begun to fleck and peel.  The birds of the title track connect to those of Florina’s premiere release, while the time of year is reflected in the progression from “Early Rain” to “Slowfrost.”

Field recordings abound, from the rattling metal of “Dreams” to the flowing water of “Quiet Space.”  The artist seems to be suggesting that listeners keep one ear to the ground while the other is invited to dream. In other words, while hoping for brighter days, don’t forget to find the beauty in today.

Florina Cassettes is off to a great start.  We’re looking forward to seeing and hearing their oeuvre grow.  Calm, textural music is especially welcome right now, while the world teeters on the edge of anxiety and yearns for sounds to pull it back to peace.  (Richard Allen)

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