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With his mix of matter-of-fact narratives and off-kilter vocals, which generally float above a rubbery mix of synthesized tones, electronic blips, and dreamy guitars, songwriter multi-instrumentalist Ryan Beattie is genuinely hypnotic and alluring, as Wayfinding. As the creative driver behind Chet and Himalayan Bear (also works with Frog Eyes, Kathryn Calder, Ashley Shadow, and Pink Mountain Tops) Wayfinding have made fans of Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Islands' Nick Thorburn, among others, and one can hear why. The playfully clever and intellectually amusing, postmodern popcraft on display here seems right up their respective alleys. It's heartfelt and fascinating music well-thought-out by Beattie.
Ryan's collaborators, Matthew Cardinal (bass/keys) and Marek Tyler (drums), are seasoned musicians known for their solo releases, collaborative work, and Polaris Prize and Juno nominated band nêhiyawak. A year at Bejar's studio afforded the trio to record these elaborate songs.
One of Wayfinding's cool tricks is this expression isn't marred in preciousness. Brushed with reverb, Beattie sings emotively with witty intention but articulate and direct; his lyrics are unsettling and mysterious, occasionally replete with wry jokes that elicit nervous laughter and bewildered surprise. And yet, Wayfinding is uniquely haunting in its honesty, demanding listeners revisit these strange and lovely songs again and again.