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Kepler – Attic Salt

Back in the day, Montreal’s Kepler toured with a fledgling Godspeed YBE and their stripped back sound allegedly influenced their stratosphere-bound countrymen. Members of Kepler would go on to join Arcade Fire but all of this is largely irrelevant. Attic Salt is the true discussion point here. Another overlooked gem garnering reappraisal within hipster music circles. This is a record, like Slint’s Spiderland or Neutral Milk Hotel‘s In the Aeroplane Over The Sea that the cooler than cool start to drop into their hushed conversations – a mythical album, one that carved out its own niche and refused to be confined by clichéd, genre pigeonholing or lazy terminology. I strongly reject the term ‘slo-core’ in respect of this release. Admittedly the rhythm section is leaden-paced evoking Codeine comparisons but the band’s Americana heart shines through. I think they took ‘low profile’ to mean ‘let’s model ourselves on Duluth’s finest’. No bad thing. Sparhawk can be proud.

Now Attic Salt is getting the Oscarson treatment. This means the record’s long overdue first vinyl release. More than that, Oscarson are making a bid for their own label aesthetic, to rival the likes of Factory, 4AD and Kranky. This is beautifully packaged in gatefold sleeve with an in-built booklet set into the interior. The photo above actually is the original art design for the original CD release. This splendid re-issue looks better in the pictures below.

What of the music? ‘Broken Bottles Blackened Heart’ is a shimmering start point. The breezy ‘Thoroughbred Gin’ is positioned perfectly at 2 but is slightly overlong for me. A minute and a half could’ve come out of this track. Maybe you’ll tell me that you saw a Kelper gig and I don’t know what I’m talking about, but the record could’ve used an editor for my money. Kepler though, were never in any hurry. ‘My Other’ reinforces this notion, revealing the band’s strong point to be their jamming.

0002606161_10Left – Attic Salt


I won’t do a track by track. This album needs to be listened to in its entirety. Yet for all its slo-core flirtations and world-weary vocal delivery it remains warm and somewhat comforting. Considering they were Canadians dipping into alt-country territory why then am I put in mind of 1990s, song–based bands of the UK? Lowgold, South and Witness all spring to mind. Good songwriting binds them all. Kepler may not be Low, but Attic Salt is gold.

Bonus track ‘untrue’ is all over the place, with an off-kilter vocal melody and a skree of effects. I’m put in mind of the first Prefab Sprout album, pre-Thomas Dolby, called Swoon. The songwriting was there, present and correct, but the songs themselves seemed weird and impenetrable. When I go back to Swoon today it still remains oddly enchanting. As does Attic Salt. Pick this up hipsters!

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