Reviews:: Miracle Fortress Was I The Wave?

Three years ago when I was at M for Montreal, I had a chat with two Dutch journalists about what bands they should be most excited to see that weekend. In the span of a few months, the three bands I suggested (The RAA, The Luyas and now Miracle Fortress) have all released records that the masses have or will embrace.


I went on and on about Graham’s shiipwrecked on an island album worthy, Five Roses, and how easily he created sunshine kissed beauty and dreamy pop melodies. He proceeded to walk on stage without a band and the only guitar notes were the result of a strummed construction light. My jaw was on the ground as GVP danced behind beats in partial darkness, abandoning any hint of Five Roses for a more electro, Thomas Dolby “blinding me with science” performance art piece.


I was excited by the potential but admittedly wondered if his new sonic exploration would leave me behind. Not to sound like every love struck, rom-com male lead, but to me Five Roses is perfect and the early germination of his sound seemed to discard everything that I loved. Would I connect with Was I The Wave? or would it float into the ether like other talented electronic based acts (*cough Caribou cough*).


Considering GVP took almost three years to complete the final arrangements, it shouldn’t be surprising that What is the Wave? is not only amazing, the progression from what I assumed would be the high point of the Miracle Fortress catalog feels completely natural. GVP builds his compositions with a foundation of programmed intricacies instead of guitars, bass and percussion, but a pop sensibility still shines through. “Spectre” may be composed of meticulously crafted beats and textures layered seamlessly on top of each other, but Graham’s vocals soar and the seemingly inorganic matter feels as warm as a blast of summer sun and comes off like a distant cousin to the sparkling gem, “Whirrs.”


In fact, almost every song on Was I The Wave? has a pulse that is manipulated by emotion not dials. The persistent back beat of “Immanent Domain” is warbled and distorted, and even the gentle picks that conclude the album help you feel a surge through your veins not just a pounding that threatens to shatter the precious defenses of your rib cage. Even when Graham locks in to the beat driven compositions - the album standout “Everything Works” or the delightful lead single, “Everything Works” - you know the melodies are programmed to play, but you still feel it could spontaneously transform in front of you.


Patience is a virtue, one that seems fleeting in the “hear my demos now!” era we live in, but the years Graham took building foundations, tearing them down and starting over and over again make this record such a treat. Nothing seems rushed, and every thought is completed beautifully. The growth process may be organic, but these songs couldn’t come together on a whim. There’s too much depth and hidden textures. Much like the coveted triangle offense, it takes years of experience, practice and the right parts to perfect something that seems so simple on the surface. I guess that makes Graham Van Pelt the musical Tex Winter.

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MP3:: Miracle Spectacle - Raw Spectactle



This entry was posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 9:11 am and is filed under 2011, Canada, Miracle Fortress, Music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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4 Responses to “Reviews:: Miracle Fortress Was I The Wave?”

Barry Breslau April 27th, 2011 at 2:04 am

Use correct punctuation and shorten your sentences. Writing paragraph-long sentences isn’t big or clever; it’s annoying.

LukeM April 30th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

^ “Writing paragraph long sentences isn’t big”? What does that even mean? Stop being a douche, nice review. I can’t wait to hear this album.

JR Knowles May 10th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Thoughtful, well-informed review. Could not have said it better myself. Like the reviewer, I was knocked out by “Five Roses.” It was like the long-lost late-career classic that the Beach Boys might have made if they had stayed sane, sober and alive. “Was I the Wave” originally struck me as overly electronic and dispassionate, but it opened up somewhere around the third or fourth time through. I hope it’s not another five years between records, but “Wave” was worth the wait.

Herohill » Blog Archive » Miracle Fortress - Tropic of Canada August 15th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

[...] likely heard Miracle Fortress’ latest album, Was I The Wave, which is really quite good, and Graham Van Pelt has been kind enough to release two bonus songs that came out of the recording [...]

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