Montreal’s Rebecca Foon Sees in Sound
Montreal cellist and local band contemporary Rebecca Foon, performing under the moniker Saltland, rises above obscure and nebulous song titles and band names to deliver a moving symphony of strings and voices. Newly released on Constellation, this solo debut from the ex-Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band member, titled I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us, is a moody art-film soundtrack waiting to happen. In fact, Foon has several soundtrack credits to her name.
A resident of Quebec since moving from Vancouver in 1996, Foon can be found in liner notes and band rosters all over Montreal. In addition to Thee Silver Zion, this part-time activist for Sustainability Solutions Group, a national Canadian urban sustainability cooperative, has also dedicated herself musically to acts such as Set Fire To Flames, The Mile End Ladies String Auxiliary, Fifths Of Seven and the chamber group Esmerine. Saltland’s first release was recorded predominantly in her Montreal apartment under the tutelage of Arcade Fire producer Mark Lawson. Lawson’s recording, mixing and mastering are beautiful and understated. While this project could have veered into Electronicaland, Lawson stopped it from doing so with authentic guitar sounds and simple acoustic strings. Jamie Thompson (Unicorns, Esmerine) joins Foon on percussion, programming and signal processing while Foon’s contemporaries Laurel Sprengelmeyer, Jess Robertson (Little Scream), Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson), Colin Stetson (Bon Iver), Sarah Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) all make appearances.
The title track of the EP, “I Thought it Was Us,” has a lilting 6/8 feel and conjures the feeling of a storm on a rough sea. Some horns and scattered woodwinds add a little jazz cacophony, building the instrumental track to a frenzied state before abruptly dying out. “Unholy “is a striking standout track with interwoven vocals, ambient strings and a tense, poly-rhythmic pulse. As strong as the instrumentation is, there’s not much going on lyrically. The vocals are gorgeously treated but a little vague and inaudible, almost string-like. Foon seems to sing as if she herself were the cello.
Rebecca Foon’s songs are cinematic, dramatic, and visceral, but without a strong lyrical presence or variation in tone, I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us begins to look a little monochromatic towards the end. So, if you are in need of a score for your bright, light Saturday night, keep searching. But if your stormy Monday needs a meditative, minor melody, Saltland is where you want to be.